If you want a more enriching and fulfilling life, keep listening to learn what positivity really is and 5 ways to get more of it in your life.
What is positivity?
Before we can talk about how to increase positivity, we’d better define it. After all, some things will feel positive for me, while other things will feel positive for you.
And that being said, based on the landmark work of PhD Barbara Fredrickson, I’d like to define positivity like this:
“Positivity comes in many shapes and sizes; it is the cousin of the more hedonistic ‘pleasure’, it is based in love, and it is expressed in ten main forms”.
Positivity underpins success in any area of life and what I love about it is that it makes the journey to get there easier and sweeter.
Yes, negativity exists and has a purpose. In the Taoist sense, we could not know and appreciate positivity without its opposite, negativity.
And life was never meant to be 100% positive – but we have the capacity to improve and develop positive habits so that we can enjoy a more enriched experience of life.
Barbara Fredrickson defines ten forms or aspects of positivity:
- Joy – relishing the bright, light feelings that come up when things feel right
- Gratitude – the acknowledgement of all that you have
- Serenity – the sense of peace that everything is as it should be
- Interest – a sense of feeling engaged, fascinated and compelled to explore
- Hope – a sense of optimism and belief that things can change
- Pride – a sense of accomplishment of what you have said or done
- Amusement – the freedom of laughter, sharing and connection
- Inspiration – the ability to transcend the ordinary and rivet attention
- Awe – noticing goodness on a grand scale, and
- Love – the glue that binds it all together. Love raises your levels of oxytocin, the feel good hormone, and progesterone, both of which create biological responses linked with lifelong bonds, trust and intimacy.
Researchers have created something called the Positivity Ratio, which quantifies your positive and negative emotions and gives you a tool to increase positivity in your own life.
I’ll talk about the ratio in another episode but for now, let’s explore positivity in more depth so you understand what it is and why it’s important, and some ways of building it.
Why does positivity matter?
There are lots of reasons why, but here are five great reasons I can think of.
- Positivity is attractive
We love to be around people who create a positive energy and atmosphere. It helps us to relax, let our guard down and feel more engaged and connected.
- Positivity in tribes can empower member persistence
Tribes have greater capacity to achieve more in a positive way than any individual could on their own.
This is important when it comes to personal goals too; often people lack confidence in themselves, motivation to persist and lack the support they need to gain momentum and achieve.
Purposeful, positive tribes can help us to stretch and grow beyond what we thought was possible because we are invested in the bigger vision.
In a supportive tribe, we may be more likely to persist with something until we achieve it.
- Positivity kills stress
Without harping on the kajillions of studies out there, stress is clearly one of modern society’s biggest killers and disablers.
Yes, lower stress and more positivity can slow down aging and reduce the risk of many diseases and the bad habits that cause them.
But more immediately, being positive fosters an open, creative brain state that is essential for solving problems, making decisions, building businesses and persisting toward our desired success.
- Positivity improves our experience of life
How does feeling positive impact your day to day life?
I spoke with someone recently who noticed a dozen shifts in their behaviour and experience of life as a result of being more positive.
The first shift this person mentioned was more collaborative relationships. They were able to better connect with their partner and family, with greater forgiveness, openness and without any judgement.
They felt better equipped to uphold personal boundaries and make better decisions, which in turn fostered a sense of self confidence.
They were able to be more proactive with their health and wellbeing habits.
They felt more able to take action with some of the tasks in their business that they perceived as being ‘difficult’, and which they might struggle with on a less resilient day.
- Positivity builds resilience and an upward spiral, via the ‘broaden and build’ concept
In a nutshell, the more positivity you experience, the more positivity you will create in your life and the more resilience you’ll build.
And for anyone embarking on change – losing weight, building a business, starting a new relationship or job – resilience is about your capacity to cope and thrive.
The more positivity you experience, the more positivity you will create in your life and the more resilience you’ll build.
What Can Positivity Do For Your Business?
Positivity is vital for any business owner.
Working on your own, coping with the good and bad, juggling many roles and handling suppliers and staff, there’s a lot that can create stress, sap your energy or knock your confidence.
Building positivity can counteract these things.
Positivity attracts people who are forward looking, who wish to change and who want to be part of something. It’s a great recipe for attracting the right clients.
Business is also a creative pursuit – and stress is the opposite of creativity. As I mentioned before, by bringing more positivity into your life, you can roll with the punches of life more easily.
5 Simple Ways to Increase Positivity
If you’re in my Habitology membership then you know we are looking at many options for increasing positivity and you are working through those this month.
I am really interested to know how this is impacting your business and your life and excited about doing this work with you.
For this podcast though, I want to share my favourite ways of increasing positivity.
I like these because they are simple, take very little time, and they’re very effective.
1. Dispute negative thinking
This one is a no-brainer. Most of us have faulty thinking patterns that we repeat, and it is our work to notice these and turn them from emotive statements into factual statements.
This can help us to unlearn those patterns and create healthier thinking without any drama involved. There are several ways you can do this.
2. Connect with others
Often people these days feel isolated and lonely, yet connection with others is said to be a key part in the longevity of our oldest living people across the world.
Even if you are struggling, reaching out via a text message, phone conversation or visiting a friend can bring a sense of wellbeing and positivity.
3. Connect with nature
There is much to be said about connecting with nature; we experience awe, gratitude, serenity, inspiration and love. It facilitates mindfulness.
It is easy to do and requires no tools. This is simple and powerful.
4. Assess your media diet
Media catastrophizes everything and divides and conquers people based on opinion pieces and bias. Being selective with what you read and watch, and who you listen to, can make a massive difference to your state of mind.
5. Reconstruct your day
This is a bigger exercise but can be transformational. You write down how you spend the major chunks of time in your typical day – for example, waking, breakfast, driving to work, eating lunch, etc, and you rate your level of positivity for each of these events.
This gives you so many clues about where circumstances might conjure up negative emotions, so you can then take steps to do something about these, and to build and increase the positives that you experience.
Here are two examples.
Let’s say that you notice that you feel anxious at your weekly staff meeting because there is a difficult person who always creates tension. You could decide to change your thinking about this person to decrease the negative emotions – for example – wondering what positives might be coming out of this, or perhaps feeling compassion for them that they are behaving like this.
On the flipside, you might also notice that you enjoy your lunch breaks outside. You could build on this positive experience by practicing mindfulness during this time, by walking and exploring the area after you’ve eaten, or perhaps to invite a friend to join you for part or all of the lunch break to increase your sense of connectedness.
In both cases you are proactively changing your attitude and experience of that time in your day to build more positivity into your life.
Ok, let’s recap what we’ve covered today.
Positivity is a recognised science that is defined by feeling a suite of 10 positive emotions. Positivity has been quantified into a measure, which I’ll talk about in another episode.
There are so many benefits that come out of increasing your positivity; but to sum it up, positivity creates more positivity in your life and a better experience of work, life, relationships and yourself.
Positivity underpins success in any area of life and it makes the journey to get there easier and sweeter.
Five simple ways to build positivity could include disputing your negative thoughts, connecting with others, connecting with nature, assessing your media diet and reconstructing your day.
These are just a few – others like gratitude journalling and acts of kindness are things that create positivity too.
I invite you to reflect on this for yourself and ask what your life might be like if you were more positive.
If you need help to get on top of this, visit melaniejwhite.com/habitology on how you can get the help you need to become a more positive, fulfilled person.
Ready to increase positivity?
What might your life be like if you were more positive? 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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