Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive

A little over two years ago, I read Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson and enjoyed it. I was just getting started on positivity at the time, and I thought I’d share some of the things I got out of it.

Part I: The Good News About Positivity

1. Positivity comes in many forms.

Positivity is experienced through amusement, awe, gratitude, hope, inspiration, interest, joy, love, pride, and serenity. They’re all related and interconnected forms.

2. The positivity ratio

When Fredrickson first introduces the positivity ratio, she called it a “tipping point.” Later on, she compares it to ice and water. The only thing required to go from ice to water or from water to ice is a change of temperature. We don’t see it as magic.

The positivity ratio is how positive you are (P) over how negative you are (N). The positivity ratio in a mathematical form is P ÷ N or P / N. To increase your positivity ratio, increase your positivity and decrease your negativity, which I think is said just as easily as it can be done.

Part II: Raise Your Ratio

3. Sometimes, you come across negative people, but there are ways to deal with them.

If there’s someone you interact with who’s always negative, adjust the way you typically interact with them. Are there any “hidden assumptions” you make of this person? If so, how do your actions negatively affect how you behave towards this particular person, and how can you change these actions? How can you focus on the positive attributes of this person?

If you change your perception of the situation, you may also find that this person or situation is really a teacher in disguise. As Fredrickson says, “you get to choose whether to react to the negativity this person spews.”

4. There are many ways to be more positive.

Many times people might not realize how habitually negative their thoughts are, so you may want to start there. I find that it’s helpful to just start with gratitude be thankful for what you have already and to be kind. You could be happy about what happens every day, for your friends and family, your pets, your home, or anything that makes you happy. Doing something that helps others or having a pleasant tone in a conversation is always really nice for the people you’re interacting with and yourself.

Have you read Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson? What are some of the things you’ve learned or found interesting?

If you’d like to read the book yourself, visit your local library or bookstore, or get it here.