Toxic Optimism:
The Downside of Positive Thinking


Our culture tells us to think positively, that optimism is always the best stance, and that envisioning good outcomes may bring them about. But could there be a downside to all this positive thinking?

In this presentation we show the pitfalls of optimism, and how optimism can actually bring about misery. Along the way we’ll discuss:

  • Personal problems that can result from sunny optimism
    • Psychological disorders that can be understood as the product of positive thinking
    • The relationship between optimism and denial
    • Cultural optimism as it applies to war, climate change, and the economy

If optimism isn’t really the answer, then what is? The presentation discusses the judicious use of pessimism, optimism, and realism, and how to determine which might be best in a given situation

If desired, participants can receive an information package with a slide handouts.

Formats: Available in 45-, 60-, 90- and 120-minute versions, which vary in the number of examples of the problems involved in unjustifiable positivity. These presentations work best with visuals, so there is normally a screen with presenter’s laptop and host’s (or presenter’s) projector.