Assess Your Strengths!
Happiness Assessment Assessment – Finding Signature Strengths:
The Power of Positivity: 3-to-1 Ratio
From the book Positivity: Top Notch Research Reveals the 3-to-1 Ratio
That will Change Your Life by Barbara Fredrickson, PhD
Ten Forms of positivity are: 1) Joy, 2) Gratitude, 3) Serenity, 4) Interest, 5) Hope, 6) Pride, 7) Amusement, 8) Inspiration, 9) Awe, and 10) Love.
3 positive experiences per every 1 negative experience is a bare minimum in order to gain adequate momentum towards positivity. Good intentions alone will not make anyone happier; this requires active engagement, as suggested below.
A broad mind changes the way you think and act in a wide range of circumstances. When you see more, more ideas come to mind, more actions become possible. This requires opening up your options beyond those that are currently familiar and comfortable. Seeking out and savoring kindness, goodness, beauty, and excellence, as well as gratitude, awe, and inspiration are an important part of the process.
What about insincere positivity?
Non-enjoyment smiles (smiles that do not involve the orbicularis oculi muscle around the eye), have been proven nearly as corrosive as angry facial expressions, because they are known as an insincere smile. You must first surrender a part of yourself to being vulnerable to happiness and then let go of what may be holding you back from sincerely experiencing happiness.
Remember that anger and engagement in conflict can be healthy and productive forms of negativity, whereas expressions of disgust and contempt are more corrosive. Negativity that is appropriate is specific and correctable. Negativity that is inappropriate is more often gratuitous and global (absorbing).
Specific Activities to Promote Positivity:
1) Be open and judgment or expectation free: Give yourself permission and time to experience the richness of the present moment. Experiment with both awareness and acceptance no matter what happens.
2) Create High-Quality connections: Externalize your positivity. Be present, attentive and affirming through respectful engagement. Find someone who is trust-worthy and then believe you can depend on this person to meet your expectations, and let it show to them. Remember to be playful, engaging in play activities such as a sporting event or some other way of “goofing off” is important in building a quality connection.
3) Cultivate kindness: Give yourself a goal of performing five new acts of kindness on a single day. Aim for actions that really make a difference and come at some cost to you, such as donating blood, helping a neighbor with their yard, or helping someone with a problem.
4) Develop distractions: This is important in breaking the grip of rumination (thinking over and over about a thought). Make two lists, healthy distractions and unhealthy distractions. Become aware of the unhealthy distractions that you might want to turn to (such as eating or using substances). Give yourself permission to be distracted with healthy distractions.
5) Dispute negative thinking: Write your typical negative thoughts onto flash cards. Then read it out loud and as fast and thoroughly as possible, dispute the negative thought. Do it out loud and with conviction!
6) Go into nature often: Even a public park. The more expansive the better: rivers, forests, meadows, and oceans. Spend time in these places regularly whether to exercise, socialize or be one with nature.
7) Identify your strengths: Ask ten friends/family members to give you stories about the way you have added value and have made important contributions in their lives. List these strengths out on paper.
8) Mindfully meditate and meditate on loving-kindness.
9) Ritualize gratitude: Simply asking yourself what is going right for me right now? (If you have troubles devising a list, then this exercise is even more important, because it may show that you take for granted several positive things in your life). Consider saying a word of thanks out loud before eating your meal (perhaps honoring the plant or animal life that died to sustain your own life).
10) Savor positivity: Think about past wonderful times and reminisce about what made it so wonderful. Work on amplifying the positive moments by attending to them, feeling them, taking them in like the warm sun on a cold day.
11) Visualize your future: Where and how will you be if all of your current dreams came true? Draw out from your dreams a life mission. What purpose do you want to drive you each and every day?
12) Create a series of positivity portfolios: 1) Joy, 2) gratitude, 3) serenity, 4) interest, 5) hope, 6) pride, 7) amusement, 8) inspiration, 9) awe, 10) love. Update them from time to time and revisit them from time to time.
13) Become Mindful of your negative thoughts and find substitutes for gossip and sarcasm. Challenge yourself to let go of rumination, by not hyper-analyzing a past event. Place your focus on others rather than yourself.
14) Learn how to deal with negative people by changing the meaning of your interaction with them or limiting your exposure to them.
15) Assess your media diet by removing nightly news or violent/horror films and substituting them with alternative news sources and entertainment that promotes a positive view of the human spirit.
Remember that reshaping your world towards a more positive framework is like moving a river; it is a slow process that takes time and tenacity.