Summary of Bright-Sided

How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America

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Bright-Sided book summary
Pop culture’s push for positive thinking produces a bad backlash.


8 Overall

6 Importance

8 Innovation

9 Style


What could be wrong with thinking positively? Nickel and Dimed best-selling author Barbara Ehrenreich explores the origins of American optimism and reveals the cracks beneath its happy façade. The problem, she explains, is that staying positive regardless of your situation turns into self-delusion. Unchecked optimism can be dangerous, as illustrated by analysts who ignored the economic red flags preceding the financial meltdown of 2008. Ehrenreich’s caustic writing is entertaining, although the threads of her analysis can become frayed and tangled. Nonetheless, if a smiley face makes you frown, getAbstract recommends delving into the negative side of positive thinking.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the positive thinking movement grew in America
  • What positive thinking promises
  • What the negative effects of positive thinking are


America the Positive
“Positive thinking” has always been part of America’s ideology. Most Americans believe things will get better and that when life hands you lemons, you should make lemonade. Yet, US citizens place 23rd in happiness worldwide. More antidepressants are prescribed in the...
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About the Author

Barbara Ehrenreich, who wrote Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch, is a New York Times columnist and contributing essayist for Harper’s and The Nation.

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