The Upside of Your Dark SideDear Reader, We want to offer a counter-intuitive idea about the human condition: the cultural message that “you should feel good and try not to feel bad” is one of the most toxic pieces of advice in modern psychology.
Americans are not fans of anger, sadness, guilt, and other negative emotions. Just take a tour of the bookstore aisles and you’ll see countless titles about positivity and happiness. We invite you to take a closer look. We think that you can gain more from accessing the full range of your emotions. You don’t have to avoid discomfort to live a meaningful and engaging life. In fact, a bit of occasional anxiety or guilt can propel you to do great things.
Do we think no one should pursue happiness? Of course not. But if you’re constantly trying (and failing) to feel happy, you might want to consider an alternative life objective: be present, with an attitude of curiosity, and do what matters most to you. We want to show you the wide variety of psychological strengths that are being ignored because they feel uncomfortable or on the surface, are socially undesirable. In certain situations, what seems to be intuitively good is unhelpful and what seems to be intuitively bad is helpful. Our goal in writing The Upside of Your Dark Side is to help you become agile and whole, and by doing so, access your full potential for success and fulfillment.
Sincerely, Dr. Todd B. Kashdan & Robert Biswas-Diener
Praise for The Upside of Your Dark Side“At long last, here’s a book on why happiness can make us sad and mindfulness might be overrated. The Upside of Your Dark Side offers a provocative, evidence-based case for a balanced life. If you haven’t read it yet, you should feel guilty—and it turns out that will be good for you.”
—Adam Grant, author of Give and Take
“With verve, humor, solid research, and lots of examples, the authors cut through prevailing myths about happiness to show what actually creates a fulfilling, contributing life. Brave, bold, and brilliant.”
—Rick Hanson, PhD, author of Buddha’s Brain
“Anger, guilt, regret, and anxiety have no place in a happy life, right? Wrong. The Upside of Your Dark Side illuminates the essential role played by negative emotions. And then goes further, revealing the benefits of personality traits we tend to downgrade such as grandiosity and selfishness. Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the hidden elements of a happy, fulfilling, engaged life.”
—Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project
“The Upside of Your Dark Side offers one of the most important messages of recent psychological science: that you don’t need to avoid discomfort or distress to have a meaningful and joyful life. The authors provide a highly refreshing alternative to the idea that one must pursue happiness at all costs. There is much to be learned from the experience of negative emotions, and from this book.”
—Kelly McGonigal, PhD, author of The Willpower Instinct
Chapter 1: The False Nose of Happiness
Chapter 2: The Rise of the Comfortable Class
Chapter 3: What's So Good About Feeling Bad?
Chapter 4: How Positive Emotion Can Lead to Your Downfall
Chapter 5: Beyond the Obsession with Mindfulness
Chapter 6: The Teddy Effect
Chapter 7: The Whole Enchilada
Select Radio & Podcast Appearances
Smart People Podcast (NOTE: THIS WAS ONE OF MY FAVORITE INTERVIEWS)- with Kashdan on "How to Achieve Fulfillment"
National Public Radio-Kojo Nnamdi Show interview with Kashdan on "Your Dark Side: The Benefits Of Anti-Happiness"
The Art of Manliness- The Upside of Your Dark Side
The School of Greatness- Why Anger, Guilt and Fear Cultivate Success (and The Art of Emotional Agility)
Scientific American- Dancing with the dark side of your personality
National Public Radio-Work with Marty Nemko interview with Kashdan on "Are You Being Too Positive at Work?"
BYU Morning 10-minute interview with Kashdan on "Embrace Your Dark Sides"
Work that Matters interview with Kashdan on "Why Your Dark Side is Important to Get the Most Out of Life"
NPR-The Roundtable with Biswas-Diener
The One You Feed interview with Biswas-Diener on embracing both sides of human nature
Interview with Biswas-Diener on "Is your search for happiness holding you back?"
The Advice Goodness interview by Amy Alkon with Kashdan
The Entrepreneurs Library interview with Kashdan
CNN- Always look on the bright side of stress
Psychology Today Cover Story (January 2015)- Beyond Happiness: The Upside of Feeling Down
Refinery29- The Surprising Way To Make Anger Healthy
The Washington Post- How owning your “dark clouds” can actually make you happier
The Guardian- Bored of mindfulness? Give mindlessness a try
Fast Company- Stop chasing after happiness and do this instead
Forbes- Why A Little Bit Of Badness Can Be Good For Social Technology
New York Times - The power of feeling bad
Huffington Post- 'The Upside of Your Dark Side,' Free Speech, and 'Problems of Comfort'
The Times (UK)- You're a comfort addict, you just don't know it
Fast Company- The positive results of being negative- being a curmudgeon could be good for your career
MoneyWeek- The Secret to Happiness
Huffington Post- The Importance Of Negative Emotions
CNN - Why emotional agility is the key to being a better boss
U.S. News and World Report - The Happiness Racket: When the Pressure to Be Happy Makes You Miserable New York Magazine- In praise of zoning out
U.S. News and World Report - When Thankfulness Can Hurt Us: Being grateful is good for our health and well-being, but there are exceptions to the rule Inc.- 5 Tips to Productively Channel Your Anger
AARP Life Imagined - How to Turn Your Worst Traits Into Your Best Assets
Success Magazine - They say curiosity kills the cat. We say it doesn’t kill anything
Lifehacker- Save Face When You're Angry with a "Discomfort Caveat"
Women's Health - 5 Benefits of Being Pissed Off
Health Magazine - Go ahead and get mad
Association for Psychological Science Observer Magazine- 5 Books to Read Right Now
Maxim - How to Make Envy and Anger Work for You - Generosity and kindness are tools, but there are lots of other tools Oprah Magazine - anger, anxiety, and guilt as #13 on list of things to be grateful for (lead article)
Psychology Today- Get to know your dark side (Q & A with the editors) (September 24, 24)
Selected Lists that Include The Upside of Your Darkside
New York Magazine- Best Psychology Books from 2014
Inc.- 11 Great Business Books to Read Right Now
Greater Good Science Center- Best Books of 2014
Select Book Reviews
Library Journal (scroll down to Editorial Reviews) (September 15, 2014)
Rewire Me- Can a Little Psychopathology Be a Good Thing? Transgress magazine
Wake Up Happy interview with Kashdan on emotional and social agility
I offer workshops and keynotes for business organizations, government, professional communities, continuing education for various disciplines, and the general public. With cutting-edge knowledge and humor, I offer practical suggestions for how people and organizations can flourish.
My books Curious? and The Upside of Your Dark Side offer the new message that the greatest opportunities for joy and personal growth do not happen when searching for happiness, certainty, or safety. When we acknowledge negative emotions and impulses, and use them wisely, and are open to new experiences, we attain greater success and become a better person.
In my Well-Being Laboratory, we conduct research to better understand strength use and development, social relationships, optimal performance, happiness, meaning and purpose in life, resilience, emotions and their regulation, and stress with a focus on how to apply this knowledge to better people's lives.