The Negative Side Effects of Positive Thinking

Did you know positive thinking can negatively affect your health?

Beware of the positive thinking trap. It is a trap. Research has shown that happiness can boost our immune systems, yet happiness has little to do with positive thinking. If your thoughts aren’t positive by themselves, don’t try and make them so. When we attempt to change our thoughts, there is resistance. That resistance creates stress, which can adversely affect our health.

The challenge of positive thinking is that many people attempt to manufacture specific emotionally balancing thought patterns that are not necessarily stemming from an authentic place. For example, if I am feeling sad and someone suggests I think positive thoughts, I can try and do so, but it won’t feel natural. Not only do manufactured thoughts not affect us as deeply as our natural state, we are also subconsciously subscribing to an inner battle. A battle against ourselves. When I am sad but I feel I ‘should’ be happy, I will tend to criticize myself for not being able to succeed at such a task. This obviously only adds more fuel to the fire.

It’s kind of like eating processed food. I love the quote:

‘If it comes from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.’

Meaning, if our thoughts come from some artificial place, we will never feel nourished or truly at peace. We need that which is natural in order to function optimally. No Skittles or Hershey’s Kiss thoughts allowed!

So then what’s the answer?

When we understand more about the nature of our thoughts and emotions, we cultivate the ability to observe them without judgment. Because when it comes down to it, happiness is neither good nor bad. Anxiety, fear, stress, sadness, joy, etc. are, in and of themselves, neither positive nor negative emotions. They are simply sensations. They are a vital part of the human experience. All of them. The problem arises when we judge our thoughts. When we feel that we should be operating differently that what naturally arises, we are essentially at war with ourselves. That is the origin of suffering. Peace of mind comes from accepting what is with awareness. That is the only way to allow it to run its course.

When we pretend everything is okay, we are burying emotions that are bound to retaliate in a stronger form at some other time. The less power we expend on our fluctuating emotions and thoughts, the more energy we will have and the better we will feel. And just for the record, most of our thoughts, worries, and fears are simply just that: thoughts, worries, and fears. Life is now. The rest is a story. Almost like a fairy tale. Or a nightmare perhaps. But peace is always here now.

So here’s my spin on the definition of positive thinking: Think what you think, whatever it may be. Allow it to move through, as a storm or a rainbow would make a temporary appearance. When we shift to the observer of our thoughts, there will be less reaction and more responsiveness. More silence. We can manage ourselves more efficiently.

And in that simple shift of perspective, everything is positive. Meaning, everything just ‘is’.


  1. Katie on May 21, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Spot on! As humans we should feel what we feel genuinely. Deliberately twisting our real emotions only creates needless stress. Thanks for such a brilliant article.

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