On-going research continues to support the idea that, across a wide range of ages and life circumstances, people with higher positivity ratios have better mental health than those with lower ratios. Your positivity ratio is the ratio of positive emotions to negative ones. In order to flourish, ideally you want a ratio of 3:1 positive to negative emotions in daily life according to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson. Dr. Fredrickson has created a positivity test where you can find out your positivity ratio.
The intention is not to make your motto ‘be positive’ forcing a fake smiley face all the time. Negative emotions have a role to play and need to be expressed. When dealing with challenging circumstances, expressing and dealing with negative emotions is an important part of the process. You want to create a mindset of positivity however so you can begin to notice positivity around you. Remember, “where your focus goes, energy flows!”
Fredrickson has identified ten positive emotions that we want to cultivate into our days: joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and love. The goal is to increase your daily diet of these positive emotions through frequent mild “micro moment” experiences of positive emotions. Again, not forced positivity but rather shifting your lens to notice the positive more often. The little moments like the sun shining, or the person who held the door open for you at the coffee shop, or the serenity of your dog while sleeping, or silliness of the squirrels running around your yard.
Getting outside always helps me, especially if it’s sunny out. Or reading a book about a topic that really interests me gets me excited about how I can use and share what I’m learning. Or creating some new healthy and tasty concoction in the kitchen. Especially when I give myself permission to enjoy the time and not fret about how long it takes. I’m able to really savour the experience with all my senses – the sounds from the bubbling pot, the textures of the ingredients as I chop, the shifting aroma as it cooks, the enticing visual appeal as I prepare the plates and then the moment of tasting what I’ve created, enjoying every bite and not shoveling it in as can happen when I’m in a rush.
Noticing the positive requires us to be present in the moment. Worry, fretting and fear take us out of the present and can create a negative spiral of doom and gloom which affects our ability to see opportunity, to feel competent or hopeful and optimistic about possibilities.
Positivity can be considered an active ingredient or engine of change. Daily experiences of positive emotions help grow personal resources such as competence, a feeling of meaning or purpose in life, optimism, resilience, self-acceptance and physical health. Additional benefits include:
Feeling good actually drives optimal functioning by building and sustaining the enduring personal resources we draw on to navigate life’s journey with greater success.
We can be intentional about choosing a mindset that will help us notice and feel positive emotions. Here are some attitudes that promote positivity.
Because we have a tendency to notice the negative experiences and related emotions, creating a positivity mindset will help us create new neural pathways that improve our propensity to notice positive experiences and related emotions.
Here is a list of activities that will help you develop your positivity mindset and increase your experience of positive emotions.
What we say to ourselves, how we interact with others and how we view the world – whether positive or negative – is a choice we make. By raising our awareness in the present moment we can interrupt the patterns and habits that have formed over the years and choose a positive approach that increases our energy levels, opens up our possibilities and improves our likelihood of feeling fulfilled and achieving what we want.
What ideas do you have for increasing your daily diet of positivity? What has worked for you? Please share in the comments.