A positivity project

A positivity project

By Fiona Burrage

A positivity project
In March this year, life changed as we know it. As a working, self employed mother in lockdown, life became more challenging, with some other more personal challenges I had to navigate I was determined to seek out how I could learn to cope better with our new normal. 
I discovered no one person is born more or less positive. But by having a more positive outlook or creating more positive emotions you can lead a more fulfilled life, deal better with adversity, benefit from more stable relationships, be more successful and ultimately lead a less stressful life.
On a friendship level positivity attracts positivity which I know from several friends but it also opens up our perception of the world, increases our range of vision, enables us to identify and empathise more easily with others.
Positive psychology is only a recent development in the study of the mind.  Previously psychologists have analysed negative feelings which are part of our evolution. As such they are louder and were crucial in order for the human race to survive. The fear of threats / predators and whether to use fight or flight.

But in order to be more positive, quite simply you need more more positive than negative thoughts specifically 3 positive thoughts for every negative one. Because the negative one speaks louder...  2:1 is really common, 1:1 is when you will find yourself in a negative downward spiral and depression is considered less than 1:1.

I have discovered there are ways to enhance enhance positivity 

How can you increase the ratio?

 

Habits –

Develop new habits that make you feel good. E.g. calling a friend, a walk.  Joy, feeling joyful makes us want to play, makes us more creative and find solutions we might have missed. 

Learning how to trigger these feelings of happiness/positive emotions will increase your resilience and so your ability to deal with adversities.

Having a personality that can deal with adversity is valuable, because dealing with challenges with optimism will help you cope with catastrophes like the loss of a loved one or help with navigating life in a pandemic.

Writing –

Document your feelings, there is a link between self knowledge and happiness. Note how your feelings change during different times of the day and which times/tasks emote different responses. Once you have an overveiw of how you experience positive and negative and which trigger which you can easily increase your positivity ratio. A gratitude diary, which situations repeatedly make you grateful. Trigger more gratitude by repeating more often. E.g. fawning through shells from a family holiday you've collected.

Practise mindfulness –

During the more everyday tasks, think about and appreciate the moments, instead of rushing a meal, apprecataitng the care and attention that been made and recognise the different tastes and textures. And that doesn't just mean only thinking about the positive for example, if you missed your bus, reality check your emotion of being angry with yourself. And help dissipate the exaggerate reaction for a missed bus. And then refocus on the positive.

Distraction –

For example crossed words at work, rather than rethink it, focus onto something useful like catching up on emails. This helps distract and refocus on something more productive and positive.

Meditation –

By practising concentration on the present moment, will increase mindfulness, which in itself will help you feel more positive. Meditation helps you slow down, live in the now and become more aware of the more positive moments in life. I happen to fail use the Headspace app. Mediation can also reduce pain, stress and anxiety. Studies have clinically shown that mediation increase the activity in the left hemisphere involves in more positive emotions. 

What will work for one person, will not for another so this is certainly a path of self discovery. But it is possible to find  techniques or activities that work for you. If you make them into habits you can create a spiral of growth, a more resilient nature and a more positive outlook. Better equipped to deal with the cards life will deal.