Smile or Die: The Perils of Positive Psychology

Positive psychology is a discipline tailor made for American culture. Our cultural DNA inclines us towards optimism and positive thinking. These days we’ll even send positive vibes your way, and what can be wrong with that? If you ask Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of the bestselling book Nickel and Dimed, she’ll tell you what’s the problem in 10 animated minutes. Like the Philip Zimbardo video we featured last week (The Secret Powers of Time), this clip comes from the RSA YouTube Channel, which we’ve now added to our collection of Intelligent YouTube channels.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. And if you want to make sure that our posts definitely appear in your Facebook newsfeed, just follow these simple steps.

by | Permalink | Comments (3) |

Support Open Culture

We’re hoping to rely on our loyal readers rather than erratic ads. To support Open Culture’s educational mission, please consider making a donation. We accept PayPal, Venmo (@openculture), Patreon and Crypto! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (3)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Ana says:

    Americans are indeed hardwired for optimism and this wonderfully illustrated video is the best example. When she says realism she is saying “a good mixture of positive and negative that mirrors what we have around”, that’s to say, a balanced positive mindset and so we are at the beginning again. She just advocates a more meaningful positive attitude and she apparently criticizes “positivism” but in fact reinforces its arguments. When you are hardwired you don’t know that you are like that, you just show your wires whenever you speak and she (this site too) just does so. So far, only a few dares to discard any positive or negative label on their lives and just try to be without adjectives.

  • czander says:

    Happiness coaches are part of the great conspiracy that began some 20 years ago when CEO’s , hedge fund managers and bankers discovered if they outsourced jobs to China and India it would increase the bottom line and they would all get rich. If they could not outsource they discovered another way. They terminated half the workforce and piled the work on those who remained. They followed this by bringing in the happy coaches to put smiles on these overworked underpaid miserable employees. Remember “smile or your fired”. These executives, bankers and hedge fund managers who took over the once proud manufacturing industry in America and broke it up, outsourced the work or shipped entire factories offshore for obscene profits while destroying the lives of millions of employees don’t need happy coaches. I wonder why?


  • Evan Plaice says:

    @czander Wow, and I thought I was cynical. The link was a good read.

    I agree with most of it except the part about unions. This quote explains it best.

    “The key to a monopoly is to get in the middle of an intersection and charge rent.” — Newt Gingrich

    Unions are just a form of monopoly driven by employee interests instead of employer interests.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.