I want to talk about why we need to start making positivity a habit, and how it will totally transform your experience of daily life.

If you listened to episode 67, you’ll know that we need to experience three positive emotions to counteract every one negative emotion that we feel – on a daily basis.

Barbara Fredrickson’s work discusses this 3:1 ratio at length, and she describes it as the tipping point between languishing and flourishing.

When we achieve this ratio, we more likely have a wonderful experience of life, feel fulfilled and happy, and have greater resilience to help us cope with difficult times.

This on it’s own implies that it is worth making positivity a habit, because you are in the practice of constantly filling your cup.

But I also want you to reflect on how much MORE important it is for some of you to create a habit around positivity – depending on your current state of mind and wellbeing.

Our Status Quo – Positive or Negative? 

Neuroscientists say that negative thinking is our default thinking pattern. 

We are wired this way as a survival response that’s designed to keep us safe – not trusting those around us, being on alert for threats.

In the modern world we are less at risk of the life or death scenarios that our ancestors had to cope with. 

So what happens to us now is that our brains find new micro threats and negativity every day. And further, when we focus on something, we build that and broaden that thing we are focussing on.

The data suggests that around 70% of our thoughts are naturally negative. So unconsciously, that is our default thinking pattern.

On top of that though, have you noticed that some people are always upbeat and optimistic, while others seem to have one drama after another?

That’s right – we are all unique. 

When you look at one person’s tendency to be a pessimist or an optimist – to be negative or positive by default – then: 

  • 50% of that tendency is influenced by genetics 
  • 30% of our tendency is influenced by our environment, and
  • 20% is the way we manage our thoughts.

So those of you who tend to be more negative, stuck or fearful, have more work to do in building positivity, than those who are naturally that way.

Just like your muscles, your brain needs to be trained to become stronger, more positive and more resilient.

Think right now about YOUR status quo – how are you wired? Here are a few questions to think about where you sit on the positive to negative spectrum.

  1. Are you a positive or negative person?
  2. Do you consider yourself to be an optimist, a realist or a pessimist?
  3. Do you often struggle with anxiety and stress?
  4. Are you a ‘she’ll be right’ kind of person?

Now consider the influence in your environment that affect that.

Environmental Triggers (Positivity Robbers)

There are so many things that rob positivity points in our daily lives, which gives further value to proactively developing more positive thinking and doing habits.

Examples of positivity robbers include:

  • The stress of daily traffic
  • Negative news
  • Conflicts on social media
  • Poor food choices
  • Unsafe behaviour or situations
  • Difficult people
  • Toxic relationships
  • Negative self-talk or the inner critic
  • Too much responsibility
  • Ugly or uninspiring surroundings.

Remember that our environment influences around 30% of our state and our environment can tip us into negative emotions simply by virtue of exposure to any of these factors.

Our exposure to these things further builds the case for making positivity a habit – we can use this as our secret weapon to counteract the constant onslaught of negative influences around us.

More Positivity = Resilience = Getting Unstuck Quicker

Let’s talk about positivity and resilience for a moment.

Several of my clients right now are going through some major stuff in their lives, in multiple areas. 

Some are more negative, and some are more positive. So let’s see what happens in either case.

On the negative side

Despite getting qualified help, some of my negatively wired clients are still stuck in a negative thought loop. 

They are acknowledging that things are difficult, which is totally ok, but they are also saying things that perpetuate negative thoughts and feelings, such as ‘I always think negatively’, or ‘I can only think about what’s going wrong.’  

Although that’s how it feels, it isn’t helpful to dwell on the fact that you’re stuck and to play those statements over and over in your mind like a tape recorder.

That’s because negative thinking can become a habit. It can become a thought pattern and process that we entrain.

So anything that is self-critical, a negative label, or really all or nothing thinking, can do more harm in the long run than good.

These thoughts reinforce the negative and provide no instruction for how to resolve it. 

If you’re in this space right now, I invite you to acknowledge that you may be struggling with something but that you want to do something different. 

Doing this creates an opening for the possibility of change. Saying to yourself, “Yes I am this way right now but I want to be different” creates a foot in the door for more positive thought processes and habits. 

You may want to listen to episode 2 or read my blog on the topic of thought change models.

On the positive side

I am thinking of another client right now who has had massive challenges for most of the year, and is surprisingly on top of things.

They acknowledge that things have been tough, but their self talk is positive, they are taking action, getting help, making plans and being proactive. 

Instead of dwelling on the situation or the feeling of helplessness, they are saying things like ‘I have learned so much this year,’ or ‘I am grateful for the help I’m getting’ instead.

What this creates is a sense of finding hope and optimism, moving forward, getting unstuck quickly and not getting bogged down in despair. They are able to function normally and live their lives and be productive and a good parent, despite the circumstances.

The Positivity Habit – What it Boils Down To

At the heart of the matter is this – if we want to be more resilient and more positive then we need to make positivity a habit. 

That means we develop one or two regular practices such as those that I mentioned in the last episode – number 67 – and commit scheduled time to them each week – even when there is no crisis at hand, and especially then.

Think of the analogy of going to the gym – it’s something that most people can relate to in a physical sense.

If you’re one of those people that says “I always think negatively,” it is like you’re sitting on the couch saying “I’m not fit because I’m sitting on the couch”. 

You are stating what is, but this is not giving you a roadmap to change.

If you wanted to become fit or muscular then you would be saying something different to yourself.

You would be something like “I am looking forward to going to the gym,” or “I will commit to one training session this week”. 

Then you’ll be going out and physically lifting the weights to build the muscle you want.

Of course, when you build that muscle, you need to maintain it with regular gym sessions, right?

It’s exactly the same process if you want to be more positive and resilient.

But this time, you are ‘working in’ instead of ‘working out’. 

Making positivity a habit means that you are actively scheduling time for activities that will build any of the top 10 positive emotions.

For example:

Every night before bed, you rewrite one negative thought into a more neutral or positive thought. E.g, “I want to build resilience” or “I noticed my negative thoughts and I would like to let them go”.

Maybe it means that you walk in nature four mornings per week and be mindful of your surroundings.

Just like your muscles, your brain needs to be trained to become stronger, more positive and more resilient.

Your inner work is what makes positivity a habit. 

It’s the act of doing something repeatedly and in this case thinking a certain way repeatedly. 

If you start to plug that new information into your brain then you are instructing yourself to do and think something different – and you will become the more positive and resilient person you wish to be.

If you start making positivity a habit, you will create a practice of constantly filling your cup so that you can build resilience and enjoy a more fulfilling and rewarding experience of life.

Summary

We are wired to think negatively as a survival mechanism. But some of us have more negative influences in our lives than others.

Barbara Fredrickson says that we need to experience at least 3 positive emotions for every negative that we come up against.

Just like working out in the gym, having a regular schedule of positive thinking and doing habits will help us to build resilience, be happier, roll with the punches much easier and to enjoy a more fulfilling and engaging experience of life.

 

Ready to make positivity a habit?

Having a regular schedule of positive thinking and doing habits can be life changing! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

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