Positive Psychology Part 3: The delicate art of pursuing happiness



Knowing how to pursue happiness effectively is essential for living a fulfilled life (you can find more about this here). At the same time finding sustainable ways to be happy could be quite a challenge, as often in our efforts we try to fully eliminate negativity which is not a feasible strategy (as negativity is “embedded” in ourselves as a natural way of protection against danger). Or some other times we tend to engage in non-meaningful activities to keep ourselves cheered up or distracted from the reality, as we are afraid it will bring us more negativity- like watching the next episode of that addictive series and then the next one and the next one..

The “optimal” positive ratio is 3 to 1-this is the ratio under which the people are found to be “flourishing” (you can read more about the ratio and how to calculate it here). The higher the ratio, the greater growth and resilience people show.

When we start calculating and measuring our positivity rations most of us will find them to be lower than what we think – often this is because negative experiences tend to be “louder” and more -prominent than positive ones which are more subtle- therefore the negative ones are more easily remembered and higher weighted. For example- which situation would stick more- a friend who said something nice and cheered you up, or the same friend making a nasty comment that made you feel miserable?

One great aspect of the positivity ratio calculation is that by doing it we`ll start thinking about all those small positive emotions that we tend to overlook and in many cases we`ll realize that we are experiencing much more positivity that we thought. By doing this we`ll learn to discover all the good things around us and to develop an opened readiness to capitalize on them and increase the number of our positive emotions. Research shows don`t really need huge positive events to be happy- mild positive experiences that occur in a sustainable way is what matters to keep our positivity rations high. For instance, in the course of calculating your positivity ratio you might discover that small things such as going for walks uplift you, but you never thought of it. As a next step, you can incorporate it in your daily routine, or perhaps go for a walk when you need a positive influx.

As mentioned earlier- doing a one day diagnostics is not the best strategy- to get some meaningful insights try to do it for at least a week and then calculate the average.

And once again- trying to fully eliminate negativity is not a feasible strategy- apart from being genetically impossible, research shows that exclusively positive people tend to lose their creativity and that successful entrepreneurs need a “pain point” that triggers them to take decisive action. Flourishing also requires some negativity- that is why the optimal positivity ratio is 3 to 1 and not 3 to 0. Being able to honestly recognize negativity therefore allows us to be grounded in reality and to be more creative.

So go ahead- start calculating your positivity ratio and let us know how you experienced this by leaving a comment below 😉


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