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Day 3: The Positivity Ratio

 The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes. ~William James

A positivity ratio is the number of positive events or thoughts you have compared with the number of negative ones. According to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson a positive event can be something as small as a feeling of gratitude or an attitude which is curious and wondering. Positivity is more about openness than it is about some forced happiness. Being open is another way of talking about broadmindedness, a mental space when you can see life with all its possibility.

Transitions can be a hard time to keep the positivity ratio high. Winter break and the vacation time we have been enjoying is coming to a close tomorrow. While I love what I do, the compressed sense of time and the overwhelming responsibilities that go with it can easily turn into negative thoughts usually without me seeing it happen. Wanting to get things done and having both vision and expectation about how it should look can be like a brick to the head when faced with the reality of how life happens as it will.

The trick I think is to hold the vision of the accomplishments you desire while being able to surrender control of how it is all supposed to look. They are seemingly opposite behaviors that require each other. The task is learning how to keep your focus on your attitude which is the only thing you can continuously influence while the world spins around you.

I have high hopes for Good Clean Love in 2010….our second edition products will be launching with great new designs and improved products. But between here and there are a million details, not the least of which is financing it, that I often have no clear idea how I will get through. Getting lost in the details is how most of us fall off the positivity ratio- that’s why the devil is in them, I suppose. The details matter because they are the small steps that bring us to the big goals, but they are also where we get the daily practice of surrendering to forces bigger than ourselves.

Sundays more than almost any other day of the week, often provoke a low level anxiety in me when I look ahead and start to make the mental lists of what needs to happen that week. More feeling than thought, I find myself increasingly distracted and on edge for no good reason. It is no good to fight it, but bearing witness helps. Then at least, the visceral emotions buzzing around and weighing in my belly don’t control me. It is when I am swimming in these habitual responses that making myself think broader can have the most significant impact. Gratitude in any increment, curiosity or wanting to learn anything new, finding things to laugh about- I will try them all.