Tipping the negativity bias
December 6, 2016
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Tools for positivity

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Published by
Jan Hills
December 6, 2016

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When you experience a positive emotion it can be rather fleeting and it tends not to come with the same urge to take action (an action urge in the jargon) as a negative emotion does. Try this short exercise. Remember a time when you were angry or scared notice how it feels in your body and the urge you have. It is probably to stop thinking about the emotion or to get away and do something else. OK shake that off. Now think about something positive a lovely sunny day or your child smiling or whatever works for you. Again notice the physical feelings and the action urge.  If you are feeling joy it may lead you to be playful if gratitude to want to return the help.

Fredrickson says we have positive emotions because they build action urges to connect with others, and to be open to learning. Her theory also says that whilst they are fleeting they build and this building creates resilience and makes us more resourceful.

Building positivity

This is a good exercise to start, maybe as a new year resolution.

Although positive emotions may be fleeting and we tend to notice them less than negative emotions they are powerful in helping us learn, connect, and be resilient.

Fredrickson uses the metaphor that they are a bit like vegetables; you know eating greens once a month won’t do much for your health. You need your five a day. It is the same with positive emotions you need to have a regular dose and you need to tip the balance of the negativity bias by making sure you notice the positive and saver it.

The best methods for doing this are to create new habits. Try one of these:

  • Journal the positive things in your day or recall and saver them before sleep.
  • Set yourself up each day to experience a number of positive emotions. Purposefully take time to notice small positive things, the sunshine, your partner laughing, your colleague smiling at you. You will be training your brain to notice more.
  • Us B.J. Fogg’s method of Tiny Habits. set yourself a goal of noticing two positive things a day. Of course once you start to notice the positive it just goes on and on.

 

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