Each evening, students were asked to write down the best, worst and ordinary events of their days. One group was asked to find the positive meaning and long-term benefit in each of these events. At the end of the experiment, the positive meaning group showed an increase in resilience, whereas the other groups did not.
The increase in the group’s resilience was directly related to finding positive meaning in the events of their lives. This is significant, because it is an indicator of emotional well-being and growth. It helps people bounce back from the daily ups and downs of life.
This experiment was conducted by psychology professor Barbara L Fredrickson, who has conducted numerous experiments to test her broaden and build theory of positive emotions. Namely, her work has addressed the following: Do positive emotions and a positive mindset help us live a longer and healthier life? Can we develop a habit of thinking positively? Will positive thinking help create positive emotions? These are questions that have been debated for years.
Fredrickson’s research does suggest that positive emotions are associated with becoming more creative, knowledgeable, resilient, socially integrated and healthy individuals. She also reports that people with positive emotions have more successful marriages and business ventures.
Negative emotions, on the other hand, leave us feeling as if we are empty or stuck in a rut. Extreme negative emotions produce more emotional distress and a host of other stress-related physical ailments.
In her experiments, Fredrickson found that our emotions obey a tipping point known as our positivity ratio. She found that we need more than a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative emotions.
At this rate, we can begin to enjoy to benefits associated with feeling more positive about our lives. Our heart and minds are opened up by positive emotions. When we experience love, joy, gratitude, interest and hope, they change not only our mindset, but our biochemistry as well.
She identified three habits that we can develop to increase our positive emotions. Try these habits and see if you develop a more positive outlook on life.
1. Track your emotions.
For at least 30 days, track your emotions or your positivity ratio. First, be aware of your emotions, whether through notes or charts. You may begin to see a pattern emerge.
Even if you are not experiencing a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative emotions, there are ways to increase your positive emotions.
One thing you can do to develop a more positive mindset is to engage in activities that you enjoy. Do you like to read, hike, dance or garden? Sometimes we think that these activities are frivolous, but they aren’t. They are necessary if we want to increase our positive emotions.
Try adding one activity to your schedule to increase your positive thoughts and feelings.
Just as the students did in the experiment mentioned above, you can start a journal. Each day you will need to record the best, worst and ordinary events.
Be intentional about finding the positive meaning in each of these events. Some of your life events may require you to look for the silver lining to find the positive meaning.
You may have to experiment to find the best time to journal. Personally, I journal in the mornings, but it might work better for you to journal at night.
One of the simplest and easiest ways to experience a more positive mindset is by being grateful. This can be done at any point during your day; try counting your blessings in the morning as a positive way to start your day.
Write thank-you notes for the simple things in life that you are grateful for. Tell your loved ones how much you appreciate them or write them a quick note of gratitude.
Cultivate these habits in your life to develop a more positive mindset and transform your life for the better.
“If you can change your mind, you can change your life.”
– William James
Question: Do you have other strategies for creating and maintaining a positive mindset? Do you agree with the 3:1 positivity ratio? Share you thoughts in the comment section below.