More than half of Minnesota’s mental health professionals report seeing anxiety, depression and chronic psychological…
Toxic positivity is bad, but optimism has been linked to greater physical wellbeing. So which is it?
What is a positive mindset?
Though positive thinking – the practice of focusing on the positive rather than the negative – and optimism are often used interchangeably, they are slightly different.
“Optimism is a relatively stable personality trait,” explains Dr Carsten Wrosch, a psychology professor at Concordia University who has studied optimism. Optimism, he says, is not an emotion; it is a way of seeing the world, an expectation that the future will be good rather than bad.
What determines whether you have an optimistic personality is complicated. It’s partly genetics, says Wrosch. It also depends on your early childhood interactions with your caregivers – relationship dynamics that form the foundation for whether you expect good or bad things to happen – as well as your life experiences. As Whitney Goodman, therapist and author of Toxic Positivity: Keeping It Real in a World Obsessed with Being Happy explains, people who have experienced trauma or mental illness can often be labeled as negative. “But it’s just a result of the experiences that this person has had in the world, and anyone might orient themselves that way if they had those experiences.”
So positive thinking will come more naturally to some people than others.
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