The Upside of Your Dark Side Book Summary - The Upside of Your Dark Side Book explained in key points
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The Upside of Your Dark Side summary

Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener

Why Being Your Whole Self – Not Just Your “Good” Self – Drives Success and Fulfillment

4.1 (220 ratings)
23 mins

Brief summary

The Upside of Your Dark Side by Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener challenges the idea that we should always strive to be positive. The authors argue that embracing negative emotions can lead to creativity, resilience, and personal growth.

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    The Upside of Your Dark Side
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    Your happiness can interfere with your performance and accuracy.

    Nowadays, management goes by the mantra that an upbeat mood translates to business success. But while mirthful and content people do get better customer and supervisor evaluations, that doesn’t objectively mean that they are performing better.

    For instance, while they might be likeable, happy people are less persuasive.

    If you want to persuade others, then you have to communicate your message in a detailed and concrete way. However, happy people tend to focus on the big picture at the expense of the tiny details. Consequently, their arguments are less nuanced and concrete.

    Indeed, this can be seen in a number of studies on the persuasiveness of upbeat people:

    In these studies, “happy” and “unhappy” people were asked to create arguments about issues ranging from the allocation of tax dollars to the existence of soul mates. In all these studies, unhappy people’s reasoning was judged as 25-percent more convincing than those of happier participants.

    What’s more, happy people are more easily deceived and more likely to “recall” false facts than others.

    As we’ve already seen, people tend to be less interested in details when they’re happy. But if you want to spot deceit, then you’ll have to look for very subtle cues. This became obvious in one study in which participants were asked to identify liars and honest people in a series of videotapes:

    The tapes showed people denying that they had stolen something, only half of whom were telling the truth. Happy participants were able to identify the liars only 49 percent of the time, while unhappy people detected 62 percent of the frauds.

    In other experiments in which people had to recall facts or words they’d been presented with before, the happiest among them were the most prone to “recall” items they hadn’t even been shown!

    Clearly, happy people are both less persuasive and more gullible. So, how happy do you want your lawyer to be?

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    What is The Upside of Your Dark Side about?

    The Upside of Your Dark Side looks into the darkest depths of the human psyche, only to discover that the painful emotions that we often wish we could just make go away – anger, anxiety, guilt – are sometimes the key to our success. Backed by many fascinating scientific studies, The Upside of Your Dark Side makes it clear that psychological health means wholeness rather than happiness.

    The Upside of Your Dark Side Review

    The Upside of Your Dark Side (2014) explores the benefits of our negative emotions and urges readers to embrace their full range of feelings. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It challenges the conventional belief that negative emotions are inherently bad, providing thought-provoking insights into how they can be harnessed for personal growth.
    • Backed by scientific research and real-life examples, the book offers a fresh perspective on self-improvement, showing that the full range of human emotions is essential for a balanced life.
    • By encouraging readers to embrace their dark side, the book promotes authenticity and offers a path towards greater self-acceptance and fulfillment.

    Best quote from The Upside of Your Dark Side

    You need an anxious person on your team.

    —Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener
    example alt text

    Who should read The Upside of Your Dark Side?

    • Anyone who’s fed up with the happiness-hype in popular psychology
    • Anyone who tries to bottle up his or her negative emotions
    • Anyone interested in psychology

    About the Author

    Professor Todd Kashdan is a widely recognized expert on anxiety, self-regulation and well-being, who has published more than 150 scholarly articles. In addition to working as a public speaker, he has also won numerous academic awards and wrote the critically acclaimed book Curious.

    Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener is a positive psychologist who has published numerous scholarly articles and conducted research all around the world. He is currently the managing director of Positive Acorn, and his book Happiness won the PROSE Award in 2008.

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    The Upside of Your Dark Side FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Upside of Your Dark Side?

    Embrace your dark side for personal growth and success.

    How long does it take to read The Upside of Your Dark Side?

    Reading time for The Upside of Your Dark Side varies. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Upside of Your Dark Side a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Upside of Your Dark Side is worth reading for its insight into harnessing the power of our 'negative' traits.

    Who is the author of The Upside of Your Dark Side?

    The authors of The Upside of Your Dark Side are Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener.

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