A Better Way to Namasté

Namasté is no longer just a pleasant Hindi greeting, but an English lexeme; a unit of language in the form of a word or phrase that has become an abstract representation of something other than its literal meaning. In this case, indexing a kind of white piousness that explicitly exoticizes and homogenizes South Asia into a caricature of disembodied Sanskrit words (like Ayurveda and Tantra), yoga poses, and “more authentic” religion all the while making unsubtle nods to imagined noble savagery and imitative ancient wisdom.

Bring Me the Head of Norman Vincent Peale: Self Care and the American Obsession with the Power of Positive Thinking

I don’t know when I first heard the term “toxic positivity” but it was sometime after my father was diagnosed with advancing dementia and before my own initial bout with breast cancer. The concept, though, is relatively simple. Toxic positivity is a kind of cultural obsession with the necessity of positive thinking or the belief that people should always put a positive spin on every experience, even the profoundly tragic. It’s a kind of silver lining run amok: wherein instead of acknowledging the good that can sometimes emerge from the bad, you gild the entire cloud in a precious, glittery veneer of happy thoughts. And American culture is utterly obsessed with it.