Positivity is no light-weight thing, it can help you live longer, transform your life and live better.
Why do we need to talk about positivity?
If you’re like me, you may groan when you hear the word “positive” because you may picture someone telling you to just look on the bright side when you are hurting or angry and everything seems wrong.
Our brains are hardwired to see what’s wrong and recognize dangers. We are constantly fighting negative thoughts. Positivity is something we must practice and work to achieve. For most of us, it’s not a natural or comfortable reaction.
I’m a psychotherapist, so I love research. But, I’m also a human being. One of the reasons Positivity is so near and dear to my heart is because I am a recovering negative addict. I used to focus on what’s wrong, instead of what’s right–especially when things were going well. It like I didn’t want to jinx myself by being happy or positive.
One of my most FAVORITE resources for positivity comes from the groundbreaking research from Barbara Fredrickson’s positivity cognition lab in University of North Caroline in Chapel Hill. I highly recommend her book “Positivity.”
What does positivity do?
If I could boil this all down, it would be this: positivity is life-giving and negativity is life-taking.
One of the most fascinating discoveries is that cell renewal reacts to our emotions. What they found is that negativity prompts cell decay and positivity promotes cell growth. At a cellular level, it’s the difference between life and death.
Research shows that people who are positive, are not just simply feeling good and satisfied with life, but they are doing good — adding value to the word.
Positivity impacts your health … and can impact how long you live!
According to the Mayo Clinic, health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:
- Increased life span (hello… a longer life!?)
- Lower rates of depression (yes, that makes sense — I’ve seen this with many clients, positive thinking helps with depression)
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold (wow… your mind can help your immune system!)
- Better psychological and physical well-being (positivity – helps your mind and body!)
- Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
How much do I need?
Good news for you and me. While positivity might sound airy-fairy, but two psychological geniuses proved a mathematical model to pinpoint the exact number of positive interactions we need in order to languish or flourish.
Barabra Fredrickson, a PHD from University of North Carolina and Marcial Losada, PHD from Univiersity of Michigan teamed up for a year to figure out a ratio of 3:1.
So for every 1 negative thought or comment, you need 3 positive ones.
Where can I find it?
So, where can you find positivity in sometimes seemingly impossible situations? Positivity is fleeting, it’s meant to be experienced throughout the day, not clinging to it too tightly. The idea is to sprinkle more in your day like seeds of grass.
The top 10 forms are highly personal, and individual. Here is a list from Barabra Fredrickson’s research of the most commonly found. See if there’s one that you can do more of
Every moment of every day, you have a choice. Look for what’s good, what’s right, what’s a gift.
Hey, if I can do it. I’m telling you, you can too.