• Anger fuels creativity
• Guilt sparks improvement
• Self-doubt enhances performance
In the same vein, we can become wiser and more effective when we harness the darker parts of our personality in certain situations. For instance:
• Selfishness increases courage
• Mindlessness leads to better decisions
The key lies in what the authors call “emotional, social, and mental agility,” the ability to access our full range of emotions and behavior—not just the “good” ones—in order to respond most effectively to whatever situation we might encounter.
Drawing on years of scientific research and a wide array of real-life examples including sports, the military, parenting, education, romance, business, and more, The Upside of Your Dark Side is a refreshing reality check that shows us how we can truly maximize our potential. With an appreciation of our entire psychological toolkit, we become whole—which allows us to climb the highest peaks and handle the deepest valleys.
—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
“I feel like I have five new superpowers after reading this book. It turns out that leading a good and satisfying life doesn’t mean we have to try to be happy, calm or optimistic all the time. We can learn to use uncomfortable feelings like anger, anxiety, guilt, sadness or boredom to be kinder, braver, smarter, more creative and more persuasive. The dark side does indeed have an upside — and this book teaches us how to harness it, so we can truly lead more heroic and purposeful lives.”
—Jane McGonigal, PhD, author of Reality Is Broken
“Full of scientific research yet laugh-out-loud funny, this book is a must read. The authors turn everything on its head—questioning the wisdom of positive psychology and the pursuit of happiness—all in order to help us flourish and be happy!”
—Kristin Neff, PhD, author of Self-Compassion
“My experience with hundreds of clients tells me that happiness and well-being result from facing and accepting bouts of fear, shame and self-doubt. I am so glad that Todd and Robert chose to illustrate the science behind embracing negative emotions in this engaging book. It will help you live a deep, rich and meaningful life.”
—Pamela Slim, author of Body of Work and Escape from Cubicle Nation
“Do we really need another book about happiness? Don’t we all already know those ‘10 Steps to Certain Happiness’? The answers, surprisingly, are “Yes” and “No”.Yes, we need this book by Todd and Robert because No, we don’t know it all about happiness. It turns out there’s a hugely under-utilized tool to increase your capacity for happiness. The very Dark from which we run away is often the path to the Light. If you’ve ever wondered how you can use what’s Difficult to get closer to what’s Good, this just might be the book for you.”
—Michael Bungay Stanier, Senior Partner, Box of Crayons and author of Do More Great Work
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 among one of the most toxic pieces of advice in all of modern psychology.
Americans hate anger, sadness, and other negative emotions. Just take a tour of the bookstore aisles and you’ll see countless titles about our pursuit of 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 all of the time, 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 there’s a wide variety of psychological strengths you might be ignoring 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.
Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener