Toxic Positivity Book Summary - Toxic Positivity Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Toxic Positivity summary

Whitney Goodman

Keeping It Real in a World Obsessed with Being Happy

4.4 (537 ratings)
22 mins

Brief summary

Toxic Positivity by Whitney Goodman highlights the harmful effects of overemphasizing positive thinking. It discusses the importance of embracing all emotions, even negative ones, in order to truly heal and grow.

Table of Contents

    Toxic Positivity
    Summary of 6 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 6

    Even with the best of intentions, positivity can become toxic.

    Imagine this. You’ve just found out that you’ve lost your job. You’re upset – freaking out, even – and have no idea what to do next. 

    Maybe a chat with a friend will make you feel better. You want support and validation for the way you’re feeling. Your friend will know just what to say. So you tell them – “I’ve lost my job.” And what does your friend say? “Well, it could be worse. And at least you’ll have lots of spare time now. Think of it as a learning experience!”

    Do you feel better now? Didn’t think so.

    Your friend’s response is a classic example of toxic positivity. Unfortunately, these conversations happen all the time. You share your problem, and someone tells you to look on the bright side. 

    They mean well – they really do. But their reaction probably leaves you feeling misunderstood and distant from the other person. You might even feel worse than before. Toxic positivity tends to have this kind of effect. After all, it’s called “toxic” for a reason.

    The author, Whitney Goodman, is a licensed marriage and family therapist on a crusade against toxic positivity. In her mid-twenties, she realized she was exhausted from pretending to be happy all the time. And as a therapist, she soon discovered that telling her clients to focus on positive thinking and emotions was totally ineffective.

    What’s going on, she wondered? Why can’t we just be honest about how we’re feeling? And what if certain kinds of positivity are actually harmful?

    By the way, Goodman is not the first person to challenge the idea that all positivity is, well, positive

    Academics and researchers like bell hooks and Barbara Ehrenreich have already criticized the pursuit of happiness and positivity. They’ve pointed out just how damaging these attitudes can be, both for individuals and marginalized communities.

    In fact, criticism of toxic positivity dates right back to the beginning of the problem. The American psychologist William James was sounding alarm bells way back in the nineteenth century. So, toxic positivity and its critics are nothing new. 

    It’s time we took the problem seriously. We need to acknowledge that the insistence on being positive can be harmful in a myriad of ways – particularly for vulnerable people. In other words, it’s time to stop telling people to “look on the bright side.” Maybe there is no bright side! Or maybe the person suffering from a chronic illness isn’t in the mood for chirpy clichés.

    Want to see all full key ideas from Toxic Positivity?

    Key ideas in Toxic Positivity

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Toxic Positivity about?

    Toxic Positivity (2022) is an eye-opening appraisal of positivity culture in Western society. It outlines the many ways toxic positivity harms individuals and communities, and offers practical suggestions for helping ourselves and others.

    Toxic Positivity Review

    Toxic Positivity (2021) by Whitney Goodman sheds light on the detrimental effects of overemphasizing positivity. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Exploring the hidden dangers of toxic positivity, the book encourages readers to examine and rethink their approach to emotions and self-care.
    • With thought-provoking examples and expert insights, it offers practical tools to navigate difficult emotions authentically and develop resilience.
    • Through its candid exploration of society's pressures to be happy all the time, the book breaks the stereotypes and fosters a more balanced perspective.

    Who should read Toxic Positivity?

    • Happiness-seekers
    • People who want to support their loved ones in difficult times
    • Anyone who cringes at expressions like “good vibes” and “just think positive”

    About the Author

    Whitney Goodman is a licensed psychotherapist who runs a private therapy practice in Miami. Her popular Instagram account @sitwithwhit has nearly half a million followers. Toxic Positivity is her first book

    Categories with Toxic Positivity

    Book summaries like Toxic Positivity

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    31 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    Toxic Positivity FAQs 

    What is the main message of Toxic Positivity?

    Toxic Positivity explores the harmful effects of excessive positivity and encourages embracing all emotions.

    How long does it take to read Toxic Positivity?

    The reading time for Toxic Positivity varies but our Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Toxic Positivity a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Toxic Positivity is a thought-provoking read, shedding light on the negative aspects of excessive positivity.

    Who is the author of Toxic Positivity?

    Whitney Goodman is the author of Toxic Positivity.

    What to read after Toxic Positivity?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Toxic Positivity, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly
    • Partnering by Jean Oelwang
    • Jerks at Work by Tessa West
    • Self-Help That Works by John C. Norcross et al.
    • The Power of Fun by Catherine Price
    • The No Asshole Rule by Robert I. Sutton
    • When the Body Says No by Gabor Maté
    • Can We Talk? by Roberta Chinsky Matuson
    • Surrounded by Narcissists by Thomas Erikson
    • Get It Done by Ayelet Fishbach