Your positivity ratio and how to raise it!

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson is a leader in the positive psychology field; her work has been on my mind a lot lately. Her research on positive emotions is groundbreaking, and is really good stuff that can change your life – if you let it! I’ve been sharing her work at my Wishful Thinking Women Meetups and workshops and with clients. One year ago I shared it with you, here’s what we talked about . . .

I’ve mentioned Dr. Barbara Fredrickson a couple of times in previous posts. She’s the researcher, who developed the “Broaden and Build Theory” of positive psychology, which states that positive emotions broaden our awareness and perception thereby increasing our curiosity, creativity and choices.

The “Broaden and Build Theory” is the other side of the coin, so to speak, of the “Fight or Flight Theory”, which notes that we are designed to focus and narrow our vision and responses in short-term, quick-decision, dangerous situations. Both emotional responses have value – there are times when we need to react quickly, with precision and almost instinctual intent and when we need to allow ourselves the freedom to fully enjoy and explore life and its options.

The good news is, our brains are hard-wired for both. The bad news is, many of us have allowed the occasional need for fight and flight responses to spill over into many or all of life’s everyday activities. We are constantly on the lookout for emotional and physical threats, or have come to believe that bad news (i.e., psychological danger) is lurking around every corner. Our preoccupation with all things negative, stresses our bodies and may be leaving us feeling frustrated, angry or depressed.

Not to worry, after identifying and qualifying the value of positive emotions, Fredrickson took her research one step further and in her 2009 book Positivity, she quantified their value. Fredrickson and her team of researchers formulated the 3:1 positivity ratio of positive to negative emotions. The ratio is a simple but valid mathematical equation for revealing happiness levels. I like to think of it as the psychological tipping point between getting by and soaring high. 

“80% of Americans fall short of the ideal 3-to-1 positivity ratio.”

Yikes! According to Fredrickson, 80% of us are not at our best. That’s not to say we are miserable, we’re not, but we are also not as happy or fulfilled as we could be.

Fredrickson’s research shows that we need to have 3 positive emotions for every 1 negative emotion to flourish. Her work indicates that our world’s do not need to be perfect for us to flourish – negativity can still be present (as represented by the “1” in the 3:1 ratio), but as long as the ratio is 3 to 1 we are good to go.

Fredrickson notes that a 2:1 ratio means we are getting by. We might be happy, but not at our best and when faced with negativity or hard times, we can easily slide to a 1:1 ratio. Is the difference between 3:1 and 2:1 important? Here’s what Fredrickson has to say on the subject:

” . . . experiencing positive emotions in a 3-to-1 ratio to negative emotions leads people to achieve what they once could only imagine. Far from frivolous, tapping into one’s own unique sources of positivity is a wise and healthy investment in the future.”     

And, here is the truly important aspect of Fredrickson’s research, with simple changes and targeted tweaking we can move ourselves from a 2:1 to a 3:1 ratio, or higher, which improves the likelihood that we will create the lives we really want! You can improve your internal environment and enhance your external landscape by:

  • becoming more aware and savoring what is good in your life;
  • focusing on your strengths and what you and others do well;
  • predicting better for you and your loved ones;
  • adding a bit of mediation to your daily mix;
  • doing more of what you love – even the simplest little things,
  • and maintaining and enriching your relationships.

If you are interested in assessing your positivity ratio, Fredrickson has created a free online survey to help take our emotional “temperature”. (My word not her’s). To get a true “temperature” reading, Fredrickson suggests taking the survey once a day for two weeks. The survey only take three minutes to complete. If you would like to give it a try, click away. (Taking the survey even once, provides valuable insight because it shares specific examples of positive and emotional states; I highly recommend it.)

If you would like to learn more about the “Broaden and Build Theory” or the positivity ratio, click here to listen to an online interview with Barbara Fredrickson discussing her theories and research.

PS A super special shout-out to all the new Wishful Thinking Women in Tampa. Really enjoyed meeting and talking with you on Saturday – hope you are still feeling the glow – I am!

If you are ready to improve your or your organization’s positivity ratio, you do not have to do it alone. Contact Patrice Koerper; Wishful Thinking Works life coaching, workshops and seminars for help!

7 ways to capture gratitude

Yesterday’s meditation from Oprah and Deepak’s latest free 21-Day meditation series inspired me to write this post. I love their meditations, especially on the topic of gratitude.

Gratitude Doodles

I spend part of almost every day thinking about how gratitude impacts my life, reading about gratitude and its benefits, or savoring and capturing my gratitudes.

Do you have a regular gratitude practice – journal or otherwise? If not, research shows you are missing on out on a plethora of benefits!

Here are a just a few methods I have enjoyed using over the years. Match your practice to your personality – for me, switching up my methods keeps my practice going strong.

  1. Gratitude journal – write 3 a day each morning or evening.
  2. Penny in the jar – simply dropping a penny in a jar for every gratitude I took the time to savor that day – fun to see the pennies pile up – you will feel rich inside and out!
  3. Tiny strips of paper in a jar – same idea as above, but fun to read later.
  4. Gratitude chain – similar to a Christmas tree chain except I write a gratitude on each ring and watch my chain grow.
  5. I also love doodling one to three-word gratitude descriptions in all sorts of configurations – up, down and all around – with glitter pens or colored pencils in a 6 x 8, 30 page sketch pad I carry around with me. Using glitter pens on heavy sketch paper delights me, and creates a book of sorts for me to review whenever I have a quiet moment, or life seems a bit much! It’s colorful, slightly artsy and always makes me smile.
  6. Gratitude letter – 300 words of detailed thanks to someone in your life, who is special to you but you may not have taken the time to let them know – I love this method – good for everyone’s soul.
  7. Write a simple, brief, and heartfelt email, text, message, card, etc. at least once a week thanking or complimenting someone one whose actions have touched your life and made it better. You can write to a friend, family, colleague, waitress, barista, bartender, company or customer service representative – get creative!  

No matter the method you use, always remember to savor your gratitudes, it is the savoring that changes your brain chemistry and lets your entire body benefit from the practice. Over time, you will feel a positive difference in your outlook and your life.

You can read more about gratitude, its benefits, and ideas for capturing its goodness by entering the word “gratitude” or “savor” in the search bar on the right.

“Your life is your once in a lifetime opportunity; what you do with it is up to you.”

Patrice K. Robson

Today is Day 1.

Are you ready to begin or renew your personal meditation habit with Deepak and Oprah’s FREE 21-Day meditation practice – Miraculous Relationships?

Day 1 centering thought: “Today I am open to the presence of miracles.” 

I love the Einstein quote, “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything
is a miracle.”
hands-437968__340Decades ago I decided that living my life as if everything was a miracle was a choice I wanted to make. I have to remind myself of my decision often, but  with practice I have learned that the option for how I view the world is always mine and the choice is always there for me.
Miraculous relationships seem like a real possibility to me. I know finding my guy was a miracle! And recently, I was visiting friends and family and saw the relationships of three couples blooming in front of me. All of the couples were so thoughtful, loving and kind and each had been married or together for at least two decades. They were truly an inspiration.
I also talked with two amazing women who had lost their husbands just a few months ago after more than six decades of marriage. Their dedication to their marriages and their spouses was absolutely solid and real as if their union had formed another entity. And, each of the women in their 80’s, was now finding new ways to face life without their lifelong companions. They were a loving inspiration, as well.
If you would like to join us, and possibly add a miraculous perspective to your life and your relationships, sign-up and then join our Wishful Thinking Works Meditation Facebook group for additional insights and support as we meditate.
wtw-logo-patrice-koerper-life-coach-motivational-speaker 2019
Your life is your once in a lifetime opportunity; what you do with it is up to you.” 
Patrice K. Robson

Celebrate YOU this 4th of July!

4th of july 2019 1Many of you will soon be celebrating the Fourth of July with parties, picnics and pyrotechnics. Why not combine your patriotic passion with your personal triumphs – and celebrate them all!

Mid-year is the perfect time to celebrate YOU and your life by creating your very own “Ta Da List.”

The Wishful Thinking Works “Ta Da List” is much more fun than a “To Do” list, because it’s for all the things you’ve already accomplished this year – pure enjoyment with little effort!

My guess is you seldom take time to give yourself credit for all the wonderful things you have done or the challenges you have overcome. Make today your personal Independence Day by taking a moment to reflect on what makes you and your life worth celebrating as you list your accomplishments – big or small – on your personal “Ta Da” list.  It’s instant gratification of a new kind and much healthier than ice cream or holiday snacks.

4th of July 2019What have you accomplished this year that just six months ago seemed impossible or only a distant possibility? (Feel free to include anything you have ever accomplished – this is the time to toot your horn.)

What new trails have you blazed?

What have you found the strength to face?

New jobs? Degrees? Classes? Healthy practices begun? Pounds lost? (Yes, you can count the same ones over again!) Miles run? Promises kept? Chances taken? Letters written? 

What teeny, tiny or wondrously huge steps have you taken in the direction of your dreams?

List any and all of the things that make you happy and proud to be you!

Most of us spend way more time thinking about what we haven’t done, than what we have done. It’s time to change all that and make 2019 your year of the have’s not the have not’s! Celebrating success builds confidence and noting what is right in our lives makes us happier and more resilient.

Don’t be shy – this is the time for aiming high and lighting up the sky. List everything you have done that matters to you, and then when you are watching “the rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air” congratulate yourself on your 2019 accomplishments thus far, and all the exciting ones that lay ahead. Let those bright lights and loud booms ignite a sense of personal pride in you. 

And, when you finish your list, make sure to take a few minutes to offer up some gratitude for each and everything thing on it and all the folks who were part of your success. Gratitude is the fast track to happiness!

Get started by downloading your free Wishful Thinking WorksTa Da List.”  Have fun and enjoy a perfectly positive Independence Day in 2019!

 

For other free Wishful Thinking Works resources, click here.

To “Like” Wishful Thinking Works on Facebook, click here.

 

 

 

Elevate Your Mood on “International Happiness Day”

Today is “International Happiness Day,” so I am sharing Jack Canfield’s “How to Change Your Mood in 60 Seconds” video to make sure we are as happy as we can be today.  (You may remember Jack as the co-author of the “Chicken Soup” series of books.   He’s written many more since then and is an international motivational speaker, as well.)

I have posted many similar tips here at Wishful Thinking Works, and agree with Jack’s ideas and outlook. Why not jump on the happy train today by grabbing a cup of coffee or tea while you relax and watch his 9:12 minute video?

Let me know your thoughts and what works for you when you are trying to shift gears  or to ramp up your mood. Try Jack’s tips, and comment below. Everyone learns when we share!

You can follow Wishful Thinking Works here and on Facebook.
And, don’t forget,
“Your life is your once in a lifetime opportunity, what you do with it is up to you.” 
Patrice K. Robson

 

FREE 21 Day Meditation Series

 

yoga-1284657_960_720If you have never tried meditating, or if you meditate and would like to add to your current practice, join us for Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s upcoming, FREE 21-Day Meditation Experience, Manifesting Grace through Gratitude, which begins Monday, March 25. You can sign-up, here.

I have used Oprah and Deepak’s meditations in the past, and they are guided goodness and a refreshing way to calm your mind, comfort your soul.

Most of the meditations are 15 minutes in length – a small amount of time that can yield big results. There are thousands of studies showing the benefits of meditation. You do not have to meditate for long periods to begin receiving the benefits.

Benefits include:

• reduced anxiety,
• easing pain,
• and improving sleep.

To enrich your life and create new levels of awareness, insight and joy sign-up. You can participate from anywhere!

Then join the free Wishful Thinking Works Meditation Facebook Group, which is designed to help you develop the meditation habit by:

• providing accountability – studies how this is key when developing any new habit,
• and to give you a place to share your thoughts and questions with others going through the same process.
• to celebrate your successes – also so important when trying something new!

yoga-2176668_960_720It’s a virtual support group for your meditative journey!

The Wishful Thinking Works Meditation Facebook Group is open to everyone, it is listed as “closed” on FB, but that just means no one but members can see your posts. You have nothing to lose and so much gain.

Join us to find more peace in your heart and happiness in your life. You deserve this and more, and it is all FREE!

 

You can follow Wishful Thinking Works here and on Facebook.
And, don’t forget,
Your life is your once in a lifetime opportunity, what you do with it is up to you.” 
Patrice K. Robson

Happy Pi Day

piI think Pi Day is a mathematically perfect day to explore your dreams – happiness and purpose are all part of the same circle, and keep your life rolling in a positive direction!

Celebrate Pi Day by exploring possibilities and expanding your belief in how rich and rewarding your life can be.

 

If you were paying attention in grade school, you’ll remember pi is the number that describes how the circumference of a circle relates to its diameter (how wide a circle is if you draw a line straight across the middle). If a circle’s diameter is 1, then its circumference is π. If a circle’s diameter is 2, then its circumference is 2π. And so on. Here’s a helpful demonstration of that in GIF form:

This simple relationship has proved enormously useful for math and engineering throughout the course of human history. NASA uses π to calculate the trajectory of spacecraft orbits. It’s essential for engineering anything that involves the motion of circles (like wheels on a car), the area of a circle, or the volume of a sphere. Pi is also extremely useful for describing the motion and shape of waves.

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5-minute mood enhancer

cold-1284028__340I know it is cold. In some places polar cold. But a new study recently published in the Journal of Positive Psychology studies show just 5 minutes in nature will elevate your mood.  Yup, simply being outside, breathing fresh air, looking around and noticing nature will elevate your mood.

5 minutes

You don’t even have to move around, you can simply sit in nature and feel the effect! (Now I know it is probably way too cold to sit outside where many of you are living, but for those who can – go for it, and the rest of you throw on a jacket or two and step outside your front door.) The key is not to think about it – but to DO IT!

5 minutes

And, I have learned from personal experience that when I am feeling down or I am ruminating about real or perceived problems, and I drastically switch gears for 4-5 minutes, I always feel better. It works every time!

4-5 minutes can make all the difference in your day and eventually in your life.

yoga-2683522__340Exercise, dance, hula hoop, stretch, run up and down the stairs, clean a drawer, vacuum, take a shower, or laugh along with comedy on YouTube.

Get up. Move. If you want to check out nature, but it’s too cold, stand inside with the door or window open and feel the rush of the cold air. Even taking the time to look out each window in your home without opening them, will give you a totally new perspective. It’s invigorating.

Getting out of your comfort zone indoors or out can be a wonderfully effective mood enhancer – and it’s free!

Doing something different for 4-5 minutes dramatically increases the likelihood that you will feel energized and ready to take on other changes in your life.

Go for it, I am sure you have 5 minutes to spare.

 

Start now to change your life by Spring!

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Change your life!

 

Measure what matters

Knowing what matters to you and focusing on it can make your holiday season richer, more memorable, and way more fun!

Unfortunately, many of us have a tendency to fill our holidays with strife and worry and thoughts of who gets what and who doesn’t; who gathers where and who doesn’t and what gets done and what doesn’t, we drown out much of the joy of the holiday season before it even has a chance to surface.

We layer our lives with so much stress that when magical moments appear – the kids playing quietly in front of the lit Christmas tree at dusk, an unexpected card or gift from a loved one, watching a child help a grand parent, a heartfelt hug or the mention of how much we mean to someone or even the kind gesture of a stranger – we barely notice or bother to savor them.

The good news is, studies show that what we focus on tends to grow. Therefore, if we focus on what really matters to us, we can increase the likelihood that those things will move center stage in our lives because we will be more likely to notice and enjoy them.

Start by asking yourself what really matters to you.

Christmas Holiday (2)What do you want to celebrate throughout the holiday season?

What are your personal beliefs and values related to the season?

In simplest terms, what is most important to you? Family? Love? Togetherness? Religion? New Experiences? Traditions? Food? Fun?

Once you know what matters it will be much easier to notice those things and begin planning ways to integrate more of them into your holiday plans. And, with practice you will soon be sloughing of the stress and slights that normally occupy your mind.

How to make your season brighter

  1. Ask yourself what really matters to you. What do you want to hold in your heart this holiday season?
  2. Then capture every moment that matches what matters to you. Note and savor the moments as they occur.
  3. To reinforce your resolve and truly impact your holiday spirit, use one of these suggestions.
    • Jot down your memorable moments in a journal. (You can start a special holiday journal, pack it way with the holiday decorations and have the fun of re-reading and adding to it each year.)
    • Write your moments on bits of paper and store them in a jar to read during or after the holiday. (The jar can be saved from year to year and enjoyed year- long or before next year’s holiday season.)
    • Write your moments on holiday-colored paper and create a paper chain throughout the holiday with all the moments you have enjoyed and want to remember.
    • Encourage your kids, spouses and even your guests to add their special holiday moments to your jar or chain and watch them grow along with everyone’s holiday spirit. (Next year to spread the joy, you can make gift jars or chain supplies for other family members and share them in November or early December!)
    • Take a few minutes each night before you go to bed or when you wake-up to review these special moments.
    • Or, simply put a penny in a jar or bowl to capture each moment and watch your “riches” grow.

Truth is, we are in control of the holidays ahead. I know it seems like life is moving too fast, and that the gift lists, demands and commitments grow longer and greater each year, but in my case so has the love. And, the more I remind myself of that, the brighter my season shines.

Here’s to enjoying the holidays ahead!

Please note: This post was adapted from an previous year’s Wishful Thinking Works post, because I loved it so much and it was a great holiday reminder for me!

santa-claus-2927962_960_720

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Connect with Thanksgiving Tales

thanksgiving-2872964_960_720Oral traditions are almost as old as mankind. Telling stories has been bringing families and communities together for thousands of years. Writing them has been going on for hundreds of generations.

The type of stories we tell, shape our relationships and our realities.

Why not start a new Thanksgiving tradition by sharing a short personal story about someone or something you are thankful for as you sit down to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner? Many Americans will be sharing what they are thankful for, but why not expand the moment and the feelings by telling a story?

Your story does not have to be long or earth-shattering, just real and heartfelt.

We are much more inclined to complain about our lives and the trials and tribulations we face than we are to celebrate the moments that make life and magical and memorable. And, yet, most of us have lives filled with touching tales – small moments or momentous events when something or everything went well or turned-out right, or someone reached out to us at just the right time.

What better time than Thanksgiving to share simple, sweet, touching tales of who we are and why others matter to us?

Here are few of my tales to get you in the storytelling mood . . .

 I often think of Mrs. Grace Weidenthal and how her kindness and support helped me get a women’s group scholarship for “Older Returning Students”, which led to my finishing college and eventually my Masters. (I was 28 at the time!)

I will never forget the kindness shared to me as a child by my mother’s friend and one of my younger brothers’ godmothers. When Mrs. Werner brought my brother a gift for his birthday or a holiday, she always made sure to include something smaller, but no less special, for the other siblings closest to his age. A small gesture on her part, but one that filled my heart and head with pleasure and promise! I knew I would be included, and looked forward to her visits with anticipation, not only for her gifts but also to her boisterous and booming voice as she bestowed our treats upon us. She spread joy and generosity with gusto.

I often think of the help Professor Potteroff at Cuyahoga Community College gave me. Without the time he spent tutoring me, I am not sure I would have had the confidence to finish his Algebra class or to later take, and fall in love with, statistics.

I love it when someone does something small and kind, like holding a door, pausing to let me or others turn left, or slows a bit to let me enter a lane. Friendly cashiers can also make my day!

Sharing tales of positive moments in our lives might take some getting used to or may seem a bit awkward at first, but all great traditions must start somewhere, why not this Thanksgiving?

Here are 5 tips for starting your Thanksgiving storytelling tradition:

  1. Keep it short.
  2. Keep it positive! No fair, sharing tales that shine a less than stellar light on anyone – no matter how funny or memorable the tale might be! Besides, sharing your happy moments, increases the odds other will be happier, too. (Happiness is contagious.)
  3. Suggest a lead-in or place slips of paper with printed lead-ins at everyone’s place or in a basket to pass. (Creating the slips and basket is a great pre-Thanksgiving task for kids. Let them use their creativity on the leads and the method of sharing. If you are short on kids, simply print them on paper and cut them up.)

1)    “I will never forget . . .”

2)    “I love(d) it when . . . ”

3)    “It felt really good when . . .”

4)    “I was so excited when . . .”

5)    “I often think of  . . . “

6)    “When I was a kid . . .”  Only use this lead in if what follows is strictly positive and not shared to teach a lesson or illustrate a point.

  1. Make sure you or one of the most outgoing children go first, this will “warm-up” the crowd.
  2. Really listen when folks are sharing; make sure they have the floor. You can even provide something fun to pass as the “Speaker’s Sharing Tool”. Anything related to the holiday will work; ceramic turkey, battery-lit candle, serving spoon, etc. The sillier or sentimental the item is, the better. Remember to thank each person who shares, before moving on.

Hopefully, reading this post has already brought good memories to mind and gotten you into the Thanksgiving spirit. If not, no problem, you still have plenty of time to think of a thankful tale or two, and to get things ready for your guests to share in your new tradition.

Have fun!

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