Reality Bites: On Positivity
BY NICHOLAS BRAMANTE Who can take the sunrise, sprinkle it with dew, cover it in chocolate and a miracle or two? Why, the Candy Man can, of course. Or at least now it seems the rest of society likes to as well. The textbook version of the “Era of Good Feelings” ended in 1825, but is a different version of that era coming back in today’s American society? Positivity is a common and often necessary part of life, but it seems that in recent years, positivity has risen almost to a cult status. While positivity is a wonderful thing to possess in life, can too much of anything really be bad for you? In today’s world, positivity is not only encouraged, it is advertised, and embraced by people across the nation. Being positive all the time is a good thing, right? This may not quite be the case. Overwhelming positivity can be found in many different aspects of American life, whether it is in people themselves, works of literature, or even business plans! While it is important at times to see a world as a glass half full rather than a glass half empty, realists around the world are starting to realize, maybe positivity is not all it has cracked up to be. Author Barbara Ehrenreich pokes holes in the theory of absolute positivity in her book “Bright-Sided.” Ehrenreich explains that positivity is no longer an emotion to many people, it is a tool of denial in life. Absolute positivity leaves no room for its polar opposite: negativity. Some may believe this to be a spectacular idea, but is negativity as a whole something we as a society should look down upon? While positivity makes people feel good and brings about hope, it also does not allow someone to prepare for the worst, the negative side of things. While it is wishful thinking to be positive all the time, a balance between the two forces is a more healthy style of life. An example of why the balance is best can of course be seen in terms of people’s lives. While we can hope only positive events will transpire throughout our lives, the reality of life is that once in a while, something is bound to come into our lives and drag us down. In terms of short-term these events are difficult, and can be emotionally draining, but does that mean they are entirely and wholly evil? For some reason many Americans believe that yes, difficult events are just plain bad. In reality however, stressing and straining times in life are what help a person grow. After being broken down, a person can rebuild and restore himself/herself to something even greater. Going through life without exposure to these events can stunt personal growth, and give way to creating a sort of haze that blinds people some seeing the truth about the world. Another spectrum of life where excessive positivity is seeping into, is surprising in the business world. In most cases, the world of business is not all sunshine and rainbows to start with, but some businesses around the world have actually taken to adopt that ideology; unfortunately it has not done many of them much justice. While it has been proven that positive thinking in the workplace can boost efficiency, over positive thinking when it comes to important decisions can also take their toll. A lack of acceptance of negative possibilities also means a lack of considering the losses. Not every decision made is the “right” one, and once in a while people make decisions that cost them, especially in businesses. While it helps to look at the potential for something, it also helps to look at the potential downfalls. Negativity lets you prepare for these downfalls, and hopefully minimize the damage done. In the end, it all boils down to a simple message most people in America have been told since childhood. Too much of anything can truly be hurtful; positivity included. With such an emphasis on positivity and avoidance of negativity, the question begs to be asked: why do we feel the need to always be positive, anyway, and why is it considered “bad” to have a problem? When you break it down, life is almost never going to be completely positive. Really it is a natural occurrence to have negativity and a helpful one. Negative situations build people up in the long run, and help prepare them for the next big challenge in life. Do not feel wrong or strange if you are having a horrible day, because everyone is meant to and does have them. It is a part of life we have to deal with, and if people refuse to open their eyes to it, then excessive positivity may prove to be just the opposite. In the end however, a bright day is what we all work towards as human beings; go out and be positive, but only because you want to, not because you have to; and leave the chocolate-covering and dew-sprinkling to the Candy Man.