Countering Militant Positivity

Countering Militant Positivity

Adrienne BoettingerThursday,1 January 2015

Has being told to smile made you contemplate kicking the speaker in the head? Do you flinch whenever you hear someone with chronically terrible luck exclaim how fortunate he or she is? Do you wish happy people came with a mute button until after you’ve had your coffee (or maybe even after then)? Don’t worry, my friends, you’re not alone.

We all know them: the aggressively positive. Maybe they’re in your family, at your office or in your circle of friends. If you think you’ve spotted a militant optimist, see if they meet any of the following criteria:

1. Owns — and routinely wears — exceedingly whimsical ties and/or socks

2. Cannot send an email, text, post, or tweet without adding at least one smiley face, other positive emoticon, “LOL”, “ROTFL” or “LMFAO”

3. Can look you in the eye and expect you to function in a chipper manner before 9am and/or before you’ve properly caffeinated

4. Responds to any tales of hardship, woe, illness, etc. with a cliché, cheerful remark, or mention of how the individual had a much more difficult time with a similar issue and that made them cherish life/time/family all the more

If you’ve answered yes to any of the above with regards to your potential optimist, do not attempt to dissuade them from their optimism. Any attempts you make to point how everything really is the worst will be trumped by their never-ending hopefulness. Logical argumentation or meticulous description of the suckiness of things will be turned against you every step of the way. Don’t try to tell them that negative people live longer and healthier lives based on research presented in 2013 in the journal Psychology and Aging. They’ll just come back at you with other, earlier studies saying positive people live longer and happier lives.

You do have some options:

1. Zone out during forced interactions, murmuring things sounding non-committal yet affirmative, while nodding your head occasionally

2. Back away slowly without looking him or her in the eye

3. Accept that maybe you could be a bit more positive

4. Imagine what he or she would look like with an enormous zit in the middle of his or her forehead

5. Start sobbing hysterically and listing all the things about your own life that make you want to curl up in the fetal position and never leave your house again

6. Maybe even sing a little “All By Myself” as loud as humanly possible

The truth is people who are tooth-achingly, sweetly positive can make you feel worse – you’ll feel guilty for not seeing everything as a rainbow-filled opportunity with puppies, kittens and cotton candy. Then you’ll feel bad because of your guilty feelings until you are trapped in a bitter whirlwind of woe. But the truth is also that people who are constantly negative will suck the life right from your damn veins. When it comes to overwhelming positivity or negativity, maybe Aristotle had it right: everything in moderation…except bourbon because that is just delicious.

Take Action!

Hat Tips:

Washington Post, Scientific American, Reuters, NPR, Image Credit: Flickr

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