Erik Van Alstine

Erik Van Alstine

Author. Leadership strategist. Expert in Perceptual IntelligenceTM.

3 Ways to Triple Your Positivity

Researchers who study optimism say the average person needs to triple their positivity. They measure ratios of positive-to-negative conversations in work teams, in marriages, and in the way we talk to ourselves, finding a massive gap between where we are and where we should be:

  • Human flourishing starts at a 6-to-1 ratio and may peak at as much as 11-to-1.
  • The average person is 2-to-1, and depressed people are 1-to-1.
  • That means the average person is just above depression and a third of the healthy ratio. They need to triple their positivity ratios immediately.

Here are three ways to triple our ratios.

#1: Solve problems faster.

When we spend more time thinking about a problem than is required, it affects our ratios. Let’s start investing just as much time we need to solve problems, and no more. Think of solving problems like cleaning a dirty window. If it takes a minute to clean it, let’s not spend an hour. And let’s not complain about dirty windows we can simply clean with a minute’s work.

#2: Ignore unsolvable problems.

Most of the problems we see on the news or hear about in the grapevine are unsolvable. Ask yourself, Is there anything I can do about this problem? If not, flush it. As heartless as it may sound, it’s not your problem, and never should be, and you’d be much more productive switching your focus on solvable problems or better yet, thinking about something you’re grateful for.

Let’s say I disagree with something any sitting President of the United States does, or a congresswoman says. It’s a “problem” for me. But does dwelling on it help me? Not at all. I can’t do anything constructive about it.

  • Sure, I can vent on social media, but that isn’t constructive. It entrenches opposition, emphasizes complaining, and gets other people focused on unsolvable problems.
  • Oh, I can vote every two years, which I do, and which takes me ten minutes by absentee ballot.
  • Sure, I can educate myself on the issues, if those issues are even relevant to my life, and if being educated on them helps others vote better in their ten minutes every two years.

For average citizens like me, political focus is a massive waste of energy that could be funneled into constructive alternatives like doing my job better and volunteering in the community and creating more value and loving my family. The best thing a citizen can do is turn off the news and let elected leaders lead.

#3: Journal the wins.

When something good happens, we can write it down and think about it more. We can give it headline status in the news feed of the mind.

When we look for wins, we find them. Small and large, they’re out there, tucked into every part of our lives. And when we write them down in a “win journal,” they get more prominent. We can also go back to them, reread, and appreciate how much good is happening.

When we don’t journal the wins, we tend to overlook them and fail to give them enough credit. It’s human nature to pass too quickly on the good things to absorb them into our attitudes and mindset. If we’re going to live with a “winning feeling,” we’ve got to put way more focus on the wins.

When we solve problems faster, ignore unsolvable problems, and journal the wins, we’re boosting the positivity ratios that lead to a healthier and happier life.

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