Leadership / Management | Technology & Social Media | Training & CPE

Positivity works. Here’s how.


You've heard about the positivity ratio, right? Dr. Barbara Fredrickson outlined it in her book "Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive." We've even referenced it in CPA Success a time or two.

It's the notion that in order to thrive personally and professionally, you must counter every negative experience with three genuinely positive ones. It's part of the science that makes the study of positive psychology so fascinating.

So when a tree fell on our house yesterday, I decided to put that ratio into action.

OK, it wasn't an entire tree -- just a really big limb that fell from an impressive height. It hit the roof with a nerve-shattering "BANG," then fell to the ground, taking our cable and Internet wires with it.

That's one seriously negative experience.

After calming my daughter down and calling the cable company, I went to work on my positivity ratio. Here's what I came up with:

  1. Yes, our Internet was out, which left me temporarily unable to work. But we still had power -- and on yet another triple-digit scorcher in St. Louis, that meant our AC was still working. Score!
  2. Turns out my Internet outage was just a temporary pain in the ass, because my Verizon MiFi device had me back online in no time. Score!
  3. Under tragically different circumstances, that limb would have killed someone. Seriously. But it didn't. Score!

There you go -- the positivity ratio in action. I'm not sure if that's what Dr. Fredrickson had in mind, but it worked for me. I was feeling so good, I didn't even mind cutting up that limb and hauling it away in the 100-degree Missouri heat.

That was all before I found that small, branch-sized hole in my roof, of course.

Time to work up a few more positive experiences, I guess. But that's the fun part, isn't it?

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Bill Sheridan