Positivity Is More than Feeling Good: It Shuts Down Your Inner Critic

Ripples in waterLast month I had one of those “I’m-gonna-crack” days. I was talking with a friend, rattling off all the things that had been piling up over the past 3- 4 weeks: following up on a bids for a major driveway repair, dealing with a cracked tooth, contact dermatitis in one eye, my list of projects to follow-up on, the disappointment of a project bid not being awarded, the myriad of articles that need to move from draft to complete, trying to balance my love of working out (burpees anyone) and the compounded impact of injuries over the years, never mind the routine chores of running a house.

You know what it is like to be weighted down and wondering how much more you can take.

What I said was “I am tired and need a break, and would really like to have Alice from the Brady Bunch in my life NOW.” What I knew is my positivity to negativity scale was tipped to far too one side (you can guess which one) and my vacation at the end of July could not come soon enough.

My vacation time makes me happy- well taking it does. Leaving it a time bank does nothing for me. More importantly it is essential for me to cultivate a flourishing professional and professional life. When in a flourishing mode I feel good and I do good; I’m focused on adding value to my work and my world.

Positivity Brings Out Your Best and Shuts Down Your Inner Critic

See my vacation is not just about getting a way and disconnecting from work, it is about reconnecting with the experience and people who tip my positivity to negativity scale back to the positive. Here’s the great news Barbara Frederickson, Ph.D., a leading researcher in psychology, has found that a 3:1 positivity to negativity ratio is a key to flourishing.

When you are positive and flourishing good things happen.
• Your mind works better. You can see a larger range of possibilities that enhances your creativity and problem solving and realistic optimistic.
• You have more good thoughts that made and that quells your inner critic
• Positivity brings out the best in you. Your mind is at peace so you sleep better, are more focused on what you are doing and it is easier be bounce back from setbacks.
• You have better relationships with family, friends and colleagues.

Non-stop Ecstasy is Not Positivity
Positivity is not about only seeing rainbows and unicorns in your world (if you do please let me know, the 6 year old in me would love to see a real unicorn), or the purist of non-stop ecstasy that people chase in the pursuit of happiness.

Positivity encompasses a whole range of human experience in particular: joy, serenity, gratitude, awe, pride, interest, inspiration, amusement, hope and love and your sincere heartfelt experience of those. Positivity does not preclude any emotion. You only know the value of what is positive if you have known disappointment, sadness, heartbreak or any other negative experience. There is room for both.

Positivity is like a VW Beetle
As a kid I spent a fare amount of time riding in a car getting on vacation. To amuse myself I’d look for VW Beetles, like my Dad’s red one. Once I found one other VW Beetle the more I was. Positivity is like that, once you start noticing what amuses you, you can take pride in, the more positive things you find.

All you need to do tip the ratio your positivity to negativity to the magical 3:1 ratio is increase the number of positive experiences you have over time in relation to the number of negative experiences you have.

C’mon on Get Happy
Here’s an easy way to get started. Bring to mind an accomplishment that you are proud of, because although you had to work for it you were in the zone while focused on it. Keep your mind focused on that experience, take a few moments to reflect on what strengths, skills or talents you used. What was so important to you about the experience? Savor your thoughts.

Now go add two more positive experiences over the next week and your reach the magic 3:1 ratio.

Great resource: Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D.

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