The term ‘toxic positivity’ refers to the concept that focusing on so-called positive emotions and rejecting anything that may trigger negative emotions is the right way to live life. This type of people just fills their minds with stereotypical sweet nothing optimism that won’t help you to deal with real pain, grief or sadness, saying always to themselves “You´ll get over it” “Be positive” “Stop being so negative” and this attitude comes from blissful ignorance and the refusal of facing reality. Positivity is a mindset and the experience is indeed more preferable than grief, sadness, or pain, however not because of that we have to deny these emotions and stay with false optimism. We cannot force ourselves to be happy just with happy thoughts.
The world isn’t just good vibes only: Is vibes good and bad. Everyone has a shadow as Carl Jung said.
Understand that feeling bad is normal, replace it with true positivity. Toxic Positivity is just the unwillingness of a person to face their shadows and forcing themselves to wear a mask and deny what it is to be human.
Epictetus a Greek Stoic philosopher wrote:
Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things. Death, for instance, is not terrible, else it would have appeared to Socrates. But the terror consists of our notion of death that is terrible.
Epictetus, Enchiridion, 5 (translated by Elizabeth Carter, 1758)
Whenever you feel a negative emotion it is your thoughts that make you feel that way. Not the world around you and the events that happen in your life.
Epictetus taught us to control our thoughts. Virtues, tolerance, and self-control. Avoid emotional extremes. The Stoics believed that everything around us operates according to a web of cause and effect, resulting in a rational structure of the universe. Which they called: Logos. While we may not always have control over the events affecting us we can have control over how we approach things.
The Stoics dealt with life as it is with 4 cardinal virtues.
- Wisdom: The ability to navigate complex situations in a logical, informed, and calm manner.
- Temperance: The exercise of self-restraint and moderation in all aspects of life.
- Justice: Treating others with fairness even when they have done wrong.
- Courage: Not just in difficult circumstances but facing daily challenges with clarity and integrity.
As Seneca one of the most famous Roman Stoics wrote, Sometimes even to live is an act of Courage.
Possessing things like money, power, or becoming famous won’t free ourselves of our emptiness, vulnerability, and confusion. We won’t find some ultimate happiness and security outside of ourselves.
Stoicism helps us find Calmness, Presence, and Resilience in a world of increasingly over chaos, anxiety and insatiable desire of more.
Don´t be a helpless victim of the world. Stoicism proclaims that there are two domains of life: our external world being the things outside of our mind, which we cannot control, and the internal, our interpretation of the external which we can control.
When we persist that the things outside ourselves are the ones that will give us “the ultimate happiness” we will remain only unsatisfied. You will remain ok without having any possessions.
“Almost nothing material is needed for a happy life for he who has understood existence” – Marcus Aurelius
You’re capable to prove yourself how strong you really are without the things you think you need.
For Stoics, the ability to find happiness in spite of what occurs around us is developed through character and perspective. We must realize that nothing is good or bad inherently, but only our judgments and interpretations of things can be good or bad. Seneca wrote:
“The wise man is neither raised up by prosperity nor cast predominantly on himself and to derive all joy from himself”
Your happiness depends on you and your attitude towards life.