Many of us are aware of the current cultural emphasis on "being positive" and the idea that "happiness is a choice." Positive psychology is a new and important concept, which includes studies on happiness, gratitude journals, and emphasizing strengths rather than weaknesses.
But this belief can be emotionally and psychologically harmful. It can even lead to shame for simply being our human selves and can cause us to deny the very important outcomes of painful and negative experiences. Positive psychology emphasizes a dualistic mentality—that we must be one way or the other— rather than helping us with the most important task of being human and accepting what is, including our responses.
Finally, it is actually a misrepresentation of the work in positive psychology, which does not deny the very real troubles or mental conditions that cause pain and suffering but claims we need to study and embrace the other side as well. In other words, we need to acknowledge both sides of our experience.
Here are five points to remember when you are working hard to "stay positive."