why positive thinking

Why Positive Thinking Is Not Always the Key to Success

Staying positive is the key to success. This statement has been around for decades now, and people seem to have taken it by heart. Sure, staying positive can help you on the road to success, but the fact is, it may also mislead you on that same road. So, before continuing with the article, here are some disclaimers for the optimists out there:

  • There are downsides to positive thinking
  • No, it’s not the most important thing in your life and career
  • Consider this article as a reality check
  • Take off the rose-colored glasses off while reading this article
  • You don’t have to become a pessimist

Now that we have that out of the way let’s focus on actually explaining why I think optimism and positive thinking are not as good as people think.

‘Can-do’ to ‘Can’t do.’

It is safe to say that the majority of the modern society has largely adopted the ‘can-do’ attitude towards life and focused on ‘positive thinking’ as the source of everything good that might happen to us.

On some psychological level, it may make sense when we take into consideration the events that unfolded the past hundred years, but is there any value to that type of thinking today.

Is the ‘can-do’ attitude really going to make you capable of ‘doing’ or ‘succeeding’?

Not really.

But it will create an illusion of you being capable of completing any task or succeeding at any project.

That is because the ‘can-do’ attitude and positive thinking are directly related to cognitive confidence, which is responsible for the way we evaluate and trust the accuracy of our decisions.

People who have adopted the ‘can-do’ attitude are actually at a higher risk of jumping into decisions without checking or researching options and possibilities, as well as the possible outcomes and consequences.

It can even lead to a necessity to google “how to get rid of laziness“ or using short-cuts to complete a task.

At work, such an attitude can affect business and lead to costly mistakes as a result of poor judgment due to the positive ‘yes-I-can-do-anything’ attitude.

In the end, it just turns out that you can’t, without proper preparation, research and hard work.

In case you’ve decided to work on your research and preparation, make sure to consult a great site where you can buy dissertation online; one of the best online writing services.


The philosophy of positive thinking is quite strange when we take a step back and look at it open-mindedly.

Positive thinking, at its very core, stands merely for us being untruthful or dishonest to our capacities, performances, importance, and even happiness.

So, by being overly positive, we are refusing to take a look at the reality of a situation which can, in the long run, be destructive, leading to avoiding the truth at all cost. And the truth is there for a reason.

Imagine thinking that everything you do is right, accurate, beneficial and can’t lead to a mistake, even if it’s the complete opposite.

After some time, such an attitude will not only create a dishonest and untruthful representation of yourself to yourself, but also to others.

Misrepresentation of your capabilities, just because ‘positive thinking can’ do wonders, can hinder you in actually recognizing the things you’re bad at, consequently, stopping you from genuinely improving and developing your skills. Which leads to…

Unrealistic Optimism

According to Christopher Peterson, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, there are two types of optimism: realistic and unrealistic optimism.

When it comes to realistic optimism, it stands for ‘hoping for the best’ while remaining in touch with potential threats of reality; on the other hand, unrealistic optimism completely ignores such warnings, usually leading to failure and lack of success, and directly, causes mental disorders, like anxiety and depression.

So, too much of a good thing can actually make you sick in the long run.

Worrying and being anxious from time to time about our performance at the office or any other job can actually be natural stimulants and motivation for doing better.

These can also function as natural coping mechanisms, as positive thinking in stressful situations can be completely counterproductive.

Positive thinking can foster unrealistic expectations and outcomes, so if things eventually don’t go the ‘positive’ way as we’ve expected them to go, the consequences can be rather negative.

No Change

According to Daily Greatness, being overly positive can stop you from actually advancing in your job or from improving your skills and performance.

Instead, it can leave you stagnating in one position, or even take you few steps backward.

The point is, change and improvement happen when we change our perception and attitude, which, in turn, requires us to consider both negatives and positives.

We all know that life is not all milk and honey and that negative things in life are there for a reason, just like the positive things are.

Sometimes you can be successful at fooling yourself into positivism, thinking it will make you look good at your work, or that it will help you move forward in your career.

The truth is, sometimes you need to fail, or look bad, in order to become better and successful.

By accepting both negative and positive, you can be sure it will be much easier to move through life, professional or personal.

Why Can Some Level of Negativity Be Good for Your Business?

A study has shown that people who tend to be negative about their abilities, skills or effectiveness, usually produce higher-quality work.

Therefore, some level of pessimism in life can actually be beneficial for you. Let’s see what those benefits really are;

Negative mood or negative thinking can improve memory and mental accuracy

  • It can help you think more carefully
  • Defensive pessimism can help manage anxiety
  • Pessimism can force you to work harder and perform your best
  • It can help you overcome creativity and writer’s block
  • Pessimism can help you prepare for the worst and decrease suffering
  • It can help you deal with your emotions much better and easier

No matter whom you are, you can never be 100% positive all the time. Plus, as a perfectly normal human beings, we tend to think negative from time to time.

And it is absolutely fine to think negative at times.

According to this article from Fast Company, negative moods can produce better teamwork. Think about it, if you have a team that focuses only on the positive and they just agree with each other, what will happen?

I bet you have watched the amazing Disney movie, Inside Out. In the movie, you need to have all your emotions, angry, sad, happy, etc, to make you complete.

The same goes for being positive and negative. You need both happiness and sadness to grow as a person. That means you need to be both positive and negative to grow to build better success in life.

You cannot succeed without failure. And nobody wants to live with just failure alone too.

This is why positive thinking may not always be the key to success. And this is also why sometimes you need a little bit of negative thinking to boost your level of success.

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