Positivity is not about being happy and positive all the time but it is about having a greater ratio of positive emotions than negative ones. Fredrickson (2009), author of ‘Positivity’ suggests that a 3-1 ratio is what we should be aiming for.
3-1 Positive to Negative Emotions in your day
When we experience positive emotions we are more open, caring and grateful. But it turns out we are also more successful in our careers and fulfilled in our relationships.
We can probably all relate to this on a small scale. When we are having a good day we feel like interacting with others more and we are often more generous with our time and energy. When we are feeling down we go more into a survival mode.
So increasing positive emotions don’t just make you feel better in the moment but they also start to have a bigger positive impact on your life.
Resilience is about being able to get back up when you get knocked down, it is about having resources and the strength to get through a difficult time.
Why does positivity help build resilience?
Positivity increases optimism and when people believe that there is a way through a situation they are more inclined to find a solution. Optimism is not putting on rose-tinted glasses and pretending everything is fine. It is about recognising problems but always believing there is a positive future ahead; that good things can and will happen. This helps people be more resilient when difficulties arise because they can see that it will pass and that they can make the situation better.
We need resilience to look after our wellbeing. Focusing on increasing positive emotions in our day is one simple way to do this.
Three ideas to increase positive emotions:
Write them down at the end of the day. By writing them down and noticing them you start to tune the brain into picking up on the positives. Too often we don’t even acknowledge the positives in our day.
Deliberately plan to do something that will bring you joy, laughter, love, peace or wonder. This might even be achieved by watching a funny tv show. What we fill our life with has an impact on us. So find things that trigger positive emotions for you.
Gratitude exercises - either writing a diary or writing a thank you letter can be a powerful way to increase our positive emotions.
Some people say that they are just not ‘positive’ people!
I’ve had people say to me that they are just not ‘positive’ people! I don’t mind how people wish to label themselves, but if we are to increase our wellbeing and build more resilience in our lives we need to recognise the power of positive emotions. And positivity can be learnt.
3-1 is not a tall order. When we focus on the positives we may start to notice there are much more than this. So, allow yourself to wallow in the positive emotions that go with those events.
Clare Martin is a the founder of the Positive Teacher Network who specialises in helping teachers to find the ultimate Work Life Balance and supports them with many of the difficulties teachers face today.
The Positive Teacher Network provides practical tips and strategies to busy, tired teachers to help them improve their lives allowing them to focus on being great teachers.