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The art of positivity and the misnomer of naïve

(EDITORIAL) There is a glaring difference between being positive and being naïve, but what is it?

naive, positive, happy

New naivete

How many times have you heard someone being called “naïve” for having an indelible positive attitude? Depending on the setting, an argument, a proposal, a person, a project, an entire department, is labeled as naïve these days.

In the world of business and politics especially, this catchall phrase is now in full vogue, especially where a show of dominance is at play.

A new n word

You should be very wary, specifically if a person of influence utters it. More importantly, you should refrain from using the “n” word (naive) yourself. describes naive as “having or showing unaffected simplicity of nature or absence of artificiality; unsophisticated; ingenuous.”

By definition then, it is quite a positive trait.

However, what online dictionaries do not provide you with is between-the-line implications, which is unfailingly negative.

The business world bless your heart

Today invoking the word “naïve” is a convenient manipulation tactic. A condescending shorthand for “you are in over your head.” Worse, people who stand up for their own beliefs are dismissed deliberately as being “naïve,” assuming that their positivity must stem from a lack of basic knowledge.

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Why you shouldn’t use it yourself?

For uttering the word describes LESS of the situation (or person) it is directed at, and MORE about the person who invoked it.

It often represents an unwillingness to reason through with disagreements, and unfairly distorting legitimate voices as impractical to get one’s own way.

Here’s the naked truth: you cannot truly partake on a great journey without immediately being accused of being naïve. There is one of life’s biggest ironies.

How can I make a difference in society?

How can I change the world? Ask anyone who has ever been successful. A billionaire, a social activist, an astronaut, a painter. They all give you the same answer—do not be afraid to ask fundamental questions; doubt common wisdom; challenge the status-quo.

But you cannot ask fundamental questions or challenge the status quo if you do not believe in yourself.

And you cannot believe in yourself if you are not fundamentally positive about your life. And if you are not fundamentally positive in face of great odds, you will never find new ways of conquering old problems.

ITs choice not ignorance

Positivity in face of adversity is not naiveté. It is leadership. Positivity is a choice, an eagerness, and an intention—to succeed—no matter what. Positivity aspires to dynamism, to growth, to evolution.

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Naiveté negates all those qualities.

So next time you find yourself standing up for your beliefs or chasing your passion, and being called naïve for it, take heart. You are on to somewhere special. Somewhere positive. Somewhere far away from naiveté.


Barnil is a Staff Writer at The American Genius. With a Master's Degree in International Relations, Barnil is a Research Assistant at UT, Austin. When he hikes, he falls. When he swims, he sinks. When he drives, others honk. But when he writes, people read.

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