The Yearly Loop of Toxic Positivity

Illustration by Meghrie Yaacoubian

As the new year unfolds, we are exposed to posts or conversations about New Year’s resolutions and goals. While it is important and encouraged to have goals or plans for improvement, they need to be realistic to match our individual capabilities and resources so that we prevent unintentionally harming ourselves.

Each January, people want to reinvent themselves as they pick their goals from a myriad of resolutions. Typically, the root cause of these resolutions comes from issues or insecurities, and if the plan fails to materialize, it can lead to feelings of failure and inadequacy.

A lot of people, influencers especially, post a list of their resolutions or vision boards that typically include traveling, starting a business, fitness goals, shopping items and much more. While these may seem like simple wishes, they can promote toxic productivity, which can lead to toxic positivity.

Toxic productivity is a harmful mindset that prioritizes constant work and productivity at the expense of physical and mental well-being, often leading to burnout. Toxic positivity, on the other hand, is the neglect of emotions to stay positive no matter the situation.

At the beginning of the new year, people are motivated by their resolutions which creates toxic productivity as they try to work hard on their goals. But then they get burnt out and do not continue during the year. Moreover, people visualize completing their resolutions by the first month rather than the scope of the entire year, but it is not easy to achieve this in a month. According to a study conducted by Dr. Caroline Leaf, a neuroscientist and mental health advocate, it takes 63 days to build a mental habit; however, most people give up on day four. Other studies also suggest that it can take up to 254 days to build a habit. Being productive with your habits does not mean that you need to rush into building them, as it requires time and good mind management.

It is okay not to have New Year’s resolutions. But if you do, it is important not to judge yourself when you do not achieve every single one. As Dr. Leaf says, “Indeed, this is one reason why toxic positivity is such an issue in our society today.” For example, if a student wishes to maintain a perfect GPA or start their own business and if they end up not achieving their resolutions, it’s normal to feel sad and unmotivated. It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and stay away from toxic positivity, such as trying to “just stay positive” or “look on the bright side,” because it causes self-guilt and shame. We can learn from these experiences rather than replacing our emotions with happiness or another resolution.

Make sure to prioritize your mental health before your resolutions. Checking something off your to-do list should not hold authority over you. Make your goals smaller and more manageable. And don’t forget to include fun and adventurous activities as part of your resolutions!

Related Posts

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x