There Is No Magic Button | The Problem with the Positive Psychology Movement

Just do this. Just do that. I have been guilty of this myself. Just told my friend the yesterday not to worry. Ha! We all do it. But the truth is that we are trying to remedy a complex problem with shallow oversimplistic advice that ignores the pain others are in! So, we think there is a magic button for everything.

There’s the…

Let it go button.
The Just be happy button.
The Don’t worry button.
The Forgive button.
The be grateful button.
The Calm down button.
The Love yourself button.
The Think positively button.
The Quiet your mind button.
The Get over it button.
The Move on button.
The Love your enemy button.
The Live/enjoy your Life button.
The stop being depressed button.

We give advice to others as if it were the simplest thing to do in the world. Just hit this button right there. For example, to not be depressed anymore, all you have to do is just not be depressed. It’s that simple. And there’s the button on the wall. Just press the “I am no longer depressed” button and presto, you are no longer depressed. Same with all the above I posted. Just decide to do these things and they magically happen… just by your decision alone.

The truth is that to go from A to B, there is a process in the middle. For example, you cannot drive from Miami to New York if you are skipping all the states in between, right? So, it is impossible to go from hating yourself to loving yourself unless you honor the process in between the two states. There is a road between every state of being as there is a road between every state in our awakening process. When we tell someone to “just do something” assuming invisible magicians at work, it’s ignoring the sacred emotional process to get there. Happiness, the end of worry, forgiveness, gratefulness, calmness, self-love, quieting the mind, thinking positively, moving past our pasts, loving our enemies, enjoying our lives and the end of depression requires extensive body-centered emotional release work that can take years or decades depending on what we have been through.

Let’s be honest, when we’re telling someone to “just be/do something”, we are really just saying “stop feeling things because when you feel stuff, you remind me of what I don’t want to feel within myself, so be silent”. That’s at the heart of every overly simplistic response to someone who is feeling life. If we were to be honest, we might want to say, “I wish I could be there for you, but I cannot handle your pain because it’s bringing up my own.” This way we are taking full responsibility for our feelings and not adding more to the plate of those who need help. This is what emotional intelligence is all about.


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