How is life for you? Are you flourishing in your endeavours or do you feel that you are languishing? We can oscillate between the two. Scientific research shows that you can transform your life and development by fostering positivity. Barbara Fredrickson tells us how.
About Barbara Fredrickson
Barbara Fredrickson is a psychologist, a researcher of positive emotions and author of Love 2.0 – Finding Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection. She sees having positive emotions as akin to having a healthy diet. If we increase our daily diet of positive emotions we can change who we are and our way of being in the world. It is not just a one-off though – but a way of life, or a way of looking at life.
Fredrickson is no Pollyanna. She suggests that you can create positivity in your life, but it takes real effort and develops over time. Moreover, she suggests that negativity has a role to play as well – in enabling us to appreciate positive emotions and provide a sort of counter-balance.
What are positive emotions?
There are many ways of describing positive emotions. Words used include:
When positivity resonates between people, there are shared moments when the emotion reverberates between them. These are more potent than other emotions and they impact our well-being.
Why are positive emotions important?
Research shows there are real physiological and psychological changes that happen in us, when we experience positive emotions. We experience:
- better health
- higher levels of social skills, mindfulness and focus
- more connection with others
- greater resilience or ability to bounce back from adversity
Positive emotions transform us for the better. They bring out the best in us and affect both the pace and the form of cell renewal in our bodies.
How positive are you?
Fredrickson suggests that to get a fair measure of your own positivity, requires monitoring it over a period eg 2 weeks. This enables you to see a pattern and gives you a benchmark to work from. She provides tools for ascertaining your own positivity level on her website here: positivityresonance.com
Fredrickson proposes that the degree of positive emotion in your life predicts whether you are flourishing or languishing. Positivity is a precondition for people to flourish.
How can you develop your positivity?
Positive emotions can be developed through greater awareness of your own behaviour. It requires you to create a “mindset of positivity” by making an effort to:
- be open to sources of goodness
- be appreciative
- be curious
- be kind
- be real/sincere (acknowledge the negative as well we as the positive things)
It means increasing your awareness of what is going on around you. It could things like:
Asking yourself What is it in your day that could be considered a gift?
Finding the subtle “good” things in your day.
Will you give it a go?