We diet to lose weight, seek to exercise more, to quit smoking, to reduce stress. But what about your mental health? Thoughts drive how we feel and how we interpret the world. When was the last time you actually sought to bring more positivity into your life? It’s about more than feeling good, it’s about more than surviving, it’s about thriving….
Barbara Fredrickson, PhD, and distinguished professor at UNC-Chapel Hill has deeply studied the role positive emotion plays in life. It goes way beyond pleasure (but what a bonus side effect that is!) As it turns out, positivity (joy, happiness, love) helps you broaden your outlook and build your life. When it comes to survival it is as important as appropriate fear, anger, and sadness.
In study after study, she and her colleagues found that those with more positivity saw the bigger picture and more available options. Those with more negativity, saw fewer options and got bogged down in details (not seeing the forest for the trees so to speak).
Being scientists, they crunched numbers and found the ideal ratio of positive to negative emotion is 3 to 1. We need both in our lives. but most of us dwell more in the negative – so we’ve got some work to do (and it’s interesting and fun too)
You can think of positivity as levity and negativity as gravity. Too much levity and we’re floating around, flighty, ungrounded; too much negativity and we crash to the ground in a miserable, weepy heap. As Fredrickson points out in her book, Positivity; appropriate negativity grounds you in reality; heartfelt positivity opens and uplifts – enabling you to flourish.
All we need to do is get a grip on our thoughts, tune in to the positive more and see what happens. If you’re like most people, the results will inspire and amaze. At very least you’ll enjoy more life and so will the people around you. First you need to assess where you are so you can build a working plan. Just like learning to eat better and exercise more, we need guidance, goal, and daily actions. Check out positivityratio.com
HOW TO INCREASE YOUR POSITIVITY
Set your self a goal of increasing positivity in the next 21 days. Here’s a few ideas:
- Employ mindfulness. check in with your head – what are you thinking, feeling? curb negativity’s fascist grip by not indulging or suppressing – but by letting it go (it takes practice!)
- Avoid gossip and sarcasm. we all like to take jabs at others every now again, but reconsider. This kind of focus drags you down along with the person your undermining. What kind of positive things can you say instead?
- Savor Goodness. Good is good. Drink it all in. Relish every nuance, taste, sound, sight. Share it if you can.
- Play. My personal favorite! Whether it’s dancing, doing somersaults, painting, playing chess, or reading. In which activity do you lose yourself? Does time stop? Where self-consciousness ceases? This is play. This is flow. Find it, do more of it.
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – it’s in our constitution. You have the right to be happy. With every right there is responsibility. Yours is to give positivity a heartfelt try. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Jovanka JoAnn Milivojevic