What is Positivity?

We’ve been talking about happiness throughout March, I now want to slightly shift our attention towards positivity. It’s something we hear a lot about, but do we really know what it means?

Positivity can be defined as:

“positivity is the practice of being, or a tendency to be, positive or optimistic in nature”.

Let’s focus a little more on that definition. Positivity is a practice – just like mindfulness is a practice. It’s not something that you either have, or you don’t have, and it’s not something that you can be good at or bad at. People can be more or less positive throughout their lives, and more or less positive depending on how much they practice. There isn’t really any such thing as a “positive person”.

The science of positivity is now being researched, with results indicating some amazing things. Positivity can alter your mind and body in ways that can literally help you create your best life. Findings indicate that positive thinkers are healthier and less stressed and have greater overall wellbeing. Positive thinking is good for the immune system, it reduces anxiety and increases pleasant emotions such as happiness.

Before we dive a little deeper into the world of positivity, it’s worth taking a moment to note what positivity is not. It’s not:

  • Putting on a cheerful face when things are difficult
  • Looking at the world through rose-tinted glasses
  • Pretending that you have no problems
  • Denying that life can be tough.

Positivity goes beyond self-talk. Although subtle, it infuses your mindscape and outlook, heart rhythms and body chemistry, muscle tension and facial expressions, and your resources and relationships – just as negativity can. Positivity consists of a whole range of emotions – from appreciation to love, from amusement to joy, from hope to gratitude and so on.

In Barbara Fredrickson’s book “Positivity”, she shares these 6 facts about positivity:

  1. Positivity feels good – this is essential – the sparkle of pleasant feelings can encourage motivation to change
  2. Positivity changes how your mind works – it changes the scope and boundaries of your mind – it broadens your outlook
  3. Positivity transforms your future – as positive emotions accrue, they build up your resources, leaving you better off overall. Repeated experiences of positivity build up your: physical, mental, psychological and social resources – this can help change your experiences
  4. Positivity puts the brakes on negativity – negativity can spike your blood pressure, but positivity can calm it. Positivity is the secret to becoming resilient.
  5. Positivity obeys a tipping point – its effects are non-linear
  6. You can increase your positivity – the potential for both negativity and positivity resides within each of us – you have more say than you think about which you feel and when. You can tip the scales to unleash your life’s potential to flourish.

If you’re interested in reading more about positivity, it’s well worth checking out Barbara Fredrickson’s website: https://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/history-of-happiness/barb-fredrickson/

By Susie Hooper
By Susie Hooper

Susie loves teaching mindfulness in her local community in Central Scotland and also online.