Do you sometimes wish you could adjust your negative way of looking at life to a more positive perspective?
Consider it, because the ratio of your positive thoughts to negative ones has been shown to predict your level of resilience.
Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson discovered that experiencing emotions in a 3-to-1 ratio with positive (3) and negative ones (1) leads people to a tipping point that allows them to naturally experience resiliency. That is, they are protected from adversity and are able to effortlessly achieve their goals and dreams. With a positive perspective you learn to see new possibilities, bounce back from setbacks, connect with others and become the best possible version of yourself.
When you have a positive perspective you are more creative, adaptable, mentally flexible, open-minded and able to connect with others in more satisfying ways. The sad truth is that only about 20% of adults are thriving mentally and 80% of adults have ratios below 3:1.
To cultivate your ability to think positively there are numerous strategies to incorporate into your everyday life. Some of these strategies you already know like exercise, breathing abdominally, eating well and hanging out with supportive friends. All of these habits foster a more positive attitude. When we feel good, we tend to think more optimistically.
Another way to cultivate a positive perspective is to engage in “flow” activities. In Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book, Finding Flow, he describes the sense of effortless action we experience at certain times in our lives. Athletes refer to this as “being in the zone,” religious mystics as being in “ecstasy” and artists and musicians as “aesthetic rapture.”
Flow can occur in the practice of yoga, painting a picture, working in the garden or walking along the beach. It is the full involvement of flow that makes for excellence in life. This is something different from happiness. We can be happy experiencing the passive pleasure of a relaxed body, a beautiful day, or the contentment of a serene relationship, but this kind of happiness is contingent on favorable external circumstances. Even then we sometimes need to take in the good, the sweetness of the moment. The joy that follows flow is of our own doing and it leads to increasing complexity and growth in consciousness. It also leads to the evolution of a positive perspective in other areas of our lives.
Your flow activity is probably something you tapped into as a child. It already exists within you. It is a matter of engaging or reengaging in those activities you enjoy, the ones in which you lose track of time and embrace being in the moment. Practicing flow activities will increase your positive to negative ratio and immeasurably enrich your everyday life.
What is your favorite flow activity? How do you feel when you emerge from the doing of this activity?