Emerge and Spread Your Wings

Boost Your Positivity

It is a beautiful morning as I write this blog. There is a calm, crispness in the air at the moment, although it promises to be another scorching day. My house is peaceful as my children have finally all returned to school. For the first time in nearly three months I have the day to myself. Bliss! I feel a sense of expansiveness and positivity.

Recently I’ve been exploring a book titled “Positivity”, written by Barbara Fredrickson, one of the founders of the Positive Psychology movement. I wrote about Positive Psychology last year while working on my post graduate paper. For more on Positive Psychology click here. During my study I read a number of articles by Fredrikson. However this book is not written for academics, but describes in a very readable way the science as well as practical tools for becoming happier, more joyful and positive. Positivity, as Fredrikson explains, has 10 forms – joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and love.

“Positivity broadens your mind, builds your future and fuels your resilience.”

In this book is described fascinating research by Marcial Losada on the performance of teams with different ratios of positivity to negativity. While low performing teams had a ratio of 1:1, high performing teams stood out with positivity ratios of 6:1. Similar effects were shown by researcher John Gottman studying the emotional dynamics in married couples pinpointing the patterns that make marriages mutually satisfying and enduring. Amongst flourishing marriages, positivity ratios were about 5:1. Fredrickson explains that when we experience a positivity ratio of at least 3 positive emotions to every 1 negative emotion we begin to flourish in our lives, our work, our relationships.

Even a small increase in positivity makes a difference. “Known as the “butterfly effect”, in which which seemingly trivial inputs – like the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in one location – can disproportionately determine later conditions elsewhere. I’ve come to think of positivity as that flapping of the butterfly’s wings. Like the fluttering butterfly, positivity can produce astonishingly disproportionate outcomes.” Even better news according to Fredrickson is that we can increase our positivity and as a result improve our lives in the future. More to come on this in a future blog. Fredrickson’s website positivityratio.com has more tools to explore if you are interested.

So this morning I easily have all the ingredients for positive emotions. I am working on increasing my awareness of the different forms of positivity in my every day. Awe at the beautiful late summer sunsets, amusement at my son’s irreverent humour, interest in discovering new ideas and tools. I’m noticing a gradual upward spiral in my positivity ratio as a result.