Too Sweet to be Wholesome

A dominant mantra in this crazy world of ours is all about surrounding oneself with positive people and positivity and it’s a mantra that makes me very uneasy.

A quick google looking for images on this topic yielded a whole pile of this kind of stuff:

negativity 4

negativity 3negativity 2negativity


Where I come unstuck on all this is where does it leave people who are sad, depressed, grieving …?

It would appear to leave them alone and palely loitering (John Keats) or else in the position where they are being expected to put  big smarmy smiles on their faces in order to look like they are on top of the world.

The other thing is that there is an inherent sense of  me, me, me and blatant self-absorption about all this.

Is this the kind of belief system we want our children to grow up in? I certainly don’t want it for any child of mine and shudder to think where it will lead if  it is soaked up by the generations who are being bombarded with it, especially 0n social media.

Having been hit with a pile of  this self-centred, individualistic awfulness on Facebook and Twitter this morning, I found this gentle image in the woods extremely reassuring and uplifting:

Caring Hands
Caring Hands












Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and I love to write both non-fiction and poetry.

22 thoughts on “Too Sweet to be Wholesome”

  1. A refreshing post. If I were to eliminate negative people from my life, I’d be eliminating some people that I’m very close to. If I’m miserable, I’d rather ring the friend who says, ‘i know, isn’t life crap,’ than the one who says, ‘Get up and get on with it.’ There’s a place for both.

    1. Thanks Derv, your example made me smile! I was thinking that according to the positivity philosophy, you’d only be able to phone once as next time they’d know not to answer in case your form was still low!!!

  2. Say ‘No’ to negativity…something a bit wrong with the whole idea alright. I like the Eeyores of this life, they make me feel less alone. Probably because I’m an Eeyore too (with a dash of Tigger)…in fact I suppose we’re all a mix of these things and its unnatural to present only one face to the world, its only asking for trouble. Thanks Jean…

  3. Well said, Jean. There’s far too much of this I’m-all-right attitude, so don’t come near me with your toxic depression and sadness and spoil MY DAY. But for the grace of God go I — none of us are invulnerable to these things. Don’t some people get it? If they’re constantly striving for some ideal state of “self-actualisation” they’re bound to die disappointed?

  4. It does seem to go hand in hand with self improvement which brings about even more attention to on me, I, and mine….. I don’t think I want to be in a world growing ego’s.
    On the other hand … there are people who really are toxic and bad for our health to be around. Finding our own line is important.
    Val x

  5. Perhaps one perspective could be that those who live a genuinely positive life and have optimistic outlooks could infuse/share/bolster the flip side with people who are less (or at a given moment less capable) of seeing promise, hope and possibility. A sharing attitude, if you will. If positive-challenged people surround themselves with people who only see and express doom, gloom and demise, they’re likely going to drain energy from themselves and others. If there exists some intentional balancing between the two people, maybe there would be more favorable outcomes — even if incrementally. I see this challenge as an opportunity, one that can happen with an alignment of positive voice and action. It’s a nurturing experience.

    Or as a dearly departed uncle oft said, it beats the alternative.

    1. Eric, your point about actively seeking to bring the positive folk together with those who are down, for whatever reason, is great. Surely that’s the idea as very few people are in one or other camp all their lives. Cooperation rather than avoidance is key, I feel.

    1. Thanks Anarette. Balance seems to be key alright but as it stands, it appears that the scales have tipped way too far into positivity without looking at the consequences, intended or unintended.

      1. I agree. It seems that people are too focused on the “I”. Hopefully it is a phase of growth in which we learn more about ourselves and start to learn more about others and about how we depend on one another.

  6. Interesting post, and some very thoughtful responses Jean. There are instances where, for your own health and sanity, you need to be firm. If you are being dragged down you can’t look after others. But empathy, sympathy and encouragement for those at a low ebb are priceless human traits.

    1. Roy, I couldn’t agree more about the issue of being dragged down and the need to avoid drowning at an individual level. However, it seems that the whole philosophy is oriented towards self and self advancement.
      It raises questions for me about whether this could be a significant contributory factor toward the increased rate of suicide, especially here in Ireland.

  7. Lovely fern n leaf picture. I suppose that any quotation can never be a book or a philosophy. I don’t think that people in grief or people, for example, exhausted by caring are negative. I do think though that sometimes, perhaps all of us, are negative. There is a lot to be said for examining our thoughts tosee if they are destructive. I feel that is unselfish not selfish. It benefits all.

  8. p.s. I feel if we get to know ourselves then we do know others as we are all made of the same stuff. Let he who is without sin & so on. I’ve got to know a lot abt myself this year. It has been v humbling. To know myself is to work on myself & to be of better service I hope.

  9. Angie, many thanks for writing. I agree with much of what you say and think you are absolutely right that all of us have ‘negative’ times that can be destructive to ourselves and others. Examining our thoughts, as you suggest, can be very revealing indeed!

    The problem I have with the ‘positivity’ movement, is that it tends to cast people who are sad, depressed, exhausted from caring etc as ‘negative’ and to be avoided as their mood might somehow be contagious.

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