Resiliency: Smile. Pass It On.

A few weeks ago, we published a blog titled “Resiliency: Talking Myself Through 13.1 Miles.” The article referenced Daniel Pink’s book, To Sell Is Human, and I shared my thoughts on how to use self-talk to overcome challenges and to be more productive and resilient. Today’s blog is the second in our series on resiliency. How do our positive thoughts translate into positive and productive behaviors?

I mean, let’s face it. It’s not easy to remain positive. All you need to do is turn on the news in the morning and you start your day depressed and disheartened. And then you navigate a slew of obstacles: the toddler tantrums, missing lunch boxes, lost homework assignments, grumpy teenagers, a cold cup of coffee, a wrinkled shirt, a bad hair day, and traffic that is infuriating, only to arrive at work to “begin” your day feeling like you just ran through a gauntlet to get there! You need to dig deep to produce a half-smile, looking forward to the day just being over.

All of the negativity we carry around is exhausting. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson has done research to show that these negative emotions actually have an adverse effect on our brains by focusing our attention on the negative and limiting our ability to problem solve. But what can we do? How can we be resilient in our daily lives?

Positivity Ratio

First, see what your own baseline is. Take Dr. Fredrickson’s Positivity Self Test and find out what your positivity ratio is!

Dr. Fredrickson’s research indicates that the optimal ratio of positive to negative thoughts is 3:1. How does your own ratio compare?

Conscious of Emotions

It seems almost obvious, but we simply need to be aware of our emotions and the behaviors we engage in. For example, what does “angry” look like for you? How would your spouse know you were angry? What are the things you say, what is the tone of your voice, and what are the things you do when you are angry?

Become self-aware. When you begin to engage in these negative behaviors, make a conscious effort to shift to more positive behaviors. Again, think through what your happy, grateful, joyful, hopeful, interested, and inspired look and sound like. Make a list. Keep it in your pocket. And when you find yourself falling into the negativity trap, force yourself to pause and make a conscious effort to shift to the positive.

Positivity has a ripple effect. Do your own experiment and you’ll see for yourself. Walk down the street and smile. Hold the door for someone. Hold the elevator. What happens? Be positive. Pass it on.

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