World renowned researcher Dr. Barbara Fredrickson shares in her book ‘Positivity’ that experiencing positive emotions broadens people’s minds and builds their resourcefulness in ways that help them become more resilient to adversity and achieve what they once could only imagine.
One of the concepts introduced in the book is the ‘Broaden-and-Build Theory’. This theory explains how increasing positive emotions creates an upward spiral that not only leads to future positive emotions but also leads to more open, creative, and flexible thinking processes, enhanced psychological strengths (like being more resilient, accepting, and more driven by purpose), better social connections, and better physical health.
Dr. Fredrickson’s Positivity Ratio
Based on her research in positive psychology, Dr. Fredrickson points out that it’s not the intensity of positive moments that lead you to have a positive, happy life – rather it’s the ratio of positive emotions to negative emotions on a long-term, consistent basis. This concept of a ‘positivity ratio’ is needed to achieve the ‘broaden and build’ effect. The ratio is 3:1.
Above this ratio, people can be classified as ‘flourishing’, and below as ‘languishing’. The 3-to-1 ratio is a form of “tipping point” and she discusses different forms of positivity and ways to increase your personal ratio over time (both increasing positivity, and/or decreasing negativity). Her website offers a quick test. Click here to check it out.
The Flourishing Personality Type
Given consistent measurements above 3, a person is described to be in a ‘flourishing’ state. People who are flourishing perform at extremely high levels and are so excited about what they are doing and their life that they not only live well, but they are keen to volunteer and are driven to give back to their communities. This personality type is inspiring to most, and people who flourish attract other people with their energy and enthusiasm, and help push them upwards too. (That’s the ‘contagion’ effect of positivity). There are plenty of personal life implications of flourishing: enjoyment, happiness, achievable challenges, stable relationships, resilience, being awestruck, open and flexible to new situations.
Another theme of the book emphasizes different kinds of positive emotions. Learning to think about which specific emotion you’re experiencing is a critical psychological skill for people who want to increase their positive emotions or decrease their negative emotions. Why? Because if you want to increase feelings of serenity in your life the strategy you use will likely be different than if you want to increase feelings of excitement. The same can be said for negative emotions. If you’re lonely, what will be required to overcome that emotion will be very different from what you will need to do to transform anger.
Are you languishing or flourishing? How do you define happiness and seek it? Happiness is within your grasp regardless of your current life challenges. To learn more about increasing positivity in your life, contact Manon Dulude.