Mastering the Art
Studying the Science and
Discovering the Practice of Positivity
One day at a time…
This year I am undertaking the biggest resolution of my life. I have come to realize that the most important commitment I can make to this life is to learn to be positive.
I have been studying, reading and occasionally writing about the science of positive psychology for some time now. The data is pretty clear: the ratio of positive to negative events in any person’s life is three to one if you have any hopes at all of thriving in life and love.
I have done enough practice to know that the data is true. That if you can remain open, curious and lean towards wonder, surprise, gratitude and occasional moments of awe, the way you see your life changes the life itself. My problem is that my neuro-circuitry has built in wiring of its own which tends to highlight what is wrong in any given situation and actually causes me to forget how to be positive at any given moment.
It was actually the new movie, Julie and Julia that inspired me on this positivity quest. If you haven’t seen it, a young woman follows in the footsteps of Julia Child, preparing every one of her recipes and blogging about the experience- both good and bad during the course of a year. Although I don’t share her devotion to the pursuit of French cuisine, I believe her method of keeping a daily and public log about her process might just apply as well to my pursuit of a positive mind.
If you are interested in following the daily PQ, it will be a window in to the successes and failures of the process, and I dare say will show more of my strengths and frailties than I generally feel free to share.. Where the quotes and perspective of those who have gone before are helpful, we will celebrate them. Where they are Pollyanna and push me into the depths of despair, you will hear about it. Here on Care2, I will share the best of the week’s posts.
Hopefully the journey will inspire you on a parallel hike and that the interactive power of our community will build into such a crescendo that we will all be reaping the benefits of living and loving well.
Looking forward to making the journey together.
Next: The first week of Wendy’s Positivity Quest
This first week was both inspiring and challenging… Here is a good challenge to start with- Consider your own emotional set point and ask yourself is it where you want it to be?
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.” –Buddha
We all have a biologically imposed hedonic set point in our ability to be positive and happy. It isn’t surprising when you consider how many of our personality traits can be linked to our genetic code. The nature/nurture argument has clearly demonstrated that the environment of our lives plays a role. Growing up and living with people who see the cup half full is one of the most meaningful educations that a healthy childhood can offer.
All of this brings me some despair as I have to admit that I my hedonic set point is low, although reportedly I was an extremely happy baby. The cup was usually half empty or worse growing up, so I know that I don’t come from a strong stock of happy people.
It is easy and familiar for me to find what is wrong with a situation or the people that I love., often without my even noticing it. Negative thoughts can and do slide into my head cloaked as reasonable doubt.
Most of us struggle as I do with both negative thoughts, which isn’t surprising when you consider how much negativity comes at us everyday in the guise of news media. I have read that 90 percent of our thoughts and the information coming at us is negative. The continuous focus on the problem does not actually solve it, it just keeps everyone involved mired in the conflict and witnessing what is wrong with those around them.
So on this second day of the positivity quest, what I can tell you is this- be vigilant.
Be a sentry into your own mind and don’t let the random bad news create the inevitable slippery slope that happens in your own mind. If you are looking for a job, don’t read about all the unemployed, it won’t inspire you. Instead, read about what you dream of doing. Talk to people doing it, have grateful thoughts as you prepare in whatever way you can to actually do the thing you want to do.
Choose your thoughts the way you choose your friends and for that matter, make sure your friends actually like you and say things that make you feel worthy. Our relationships are the first mirror into how we see ourselves. Make sure that you haven’t stacked the deck against yourself by hanging out with people who want you to feel as bad as they do.
So today — on day two of the PQ, remember this: “All truly wise thoughts have been thoughts already thousands of times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, till they take root in our personal experience.” — Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
See more of Wendy’s Positivity Quest