Find More Emotional Balance With The 'Positivity Ratio'

Find More Emotional Balance With the

Many of us could use a little more optimism in our lives, whether it's to be more productive or just to feel a little more balanced. You can train yourself to be happier with the "3-to-1 Ratio" for positivity.

Photo by Barbara M

It sounds hokey, but research supports the idea that being in a positive frame of mind produces better work for many people. If you just want to embrace a little more optimism in general, consider the number of positive emotional experiences you have every day.

In Fail Fast, Fail Often, author Ryan Babineaux discusses the research of psychologist and University of North Carolina professor Barbara Fredrickson, who found that optimism has a positive impact on your resourcefulness, skills, and resilience. They explain her "3-to-1 ratio" for positivity:

...to have a well-balanced, flourishing life, you need a minimum of three positive emotional experiences for every negative one. The positive experiences need not be a big deal — it can be something as simple as going for a walk...the important thing is that positive experiences occur regularly and are at least three times more frequent than negative experiences.

But let's not toss negativity completely out the window. It sounds odd, but research also shows that a healthy dose of pessimism can be motivating for some people.

The point is, there's something useful about both negative and positive emotions. You just have to know how they affect different aspects of your productivity and well-being. Ultimately, it helps to figure out what works for you, then you can always adjust your ratio accordingly.

The Positivity Ratio via Fail Fast, Fail Often


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