Positive psychology is an exciting new and rapidly expanding movement pioneered by Martin Seligman, Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology in the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Psychology and director of their Positive Psychology Center. His book, Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment, is one of the best ever written on the topics of happiness, learned optimism, and positive psychology (CLICK HERE to read my review of it.)
On the cover of Positivity, Martin declares Barbara Frederickson, “the genius of the positive psychology movement.” She is Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and principal investigator of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Barbara defines “positivity” as “the whole range of positive emotions – from appreciation to love, from amusement to joy, from hope to gratitude…although some of this may sound like the vocabulary of greeting cards, the term positivity points to vital human moments that have now captured the interests of science. And the new scientific discoveries about the importance of positivity are stunning.”
What’s especially compelling about the genre of positive psychology books is that they are not just giving us warmed over platitudes or emotional stories on positive thinking. Positivity is grounded in solid research while being very easy to read and chocked full of practical and very useful how-to advice. In her first chapter, Barbara presents six key points she labels as facts and then provides deep research throughout the book to support them:
Fact 1: Positivity feels good
Fact 2: Positivity changes how your mind works
Fact 3: Positivity transforms your future
Fact 4: Positivity puts the brakes on negativity
Fact 5: Positivity obeys a tipping point
Fact 6: You can increase your positivity
In her chapter on “The Positivity Ratio,” Barbara gives a detailed account of how she co-researched and co-developed a mathematical model showing that for “individuals, marriages, and business teams, flourishing – or doing remarkably – comes with positivity ratios above 3 to 1.” She defines our positivity ratio as the amount of heartfelt positivity we feel relative to our heart-wrenching negativity. “Stated formally, your positivity ratio is your frequency of positivity over any given time span, divided by your frequency of negativity over that same time span.”
The second part of the book is all about raising our positivity ratio. It starts with a Positivity Self Test. You can take the test online at http://www.positivityratio.com. This is followed with two excellent chapters on improving our positivity ratio through decreasing negativity and increasing positivity. Here Barbara helps readers apply the highly successful and well researched applications from the rapidly growing field of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The last chapter, “A New Toolkit,” provides 12 very concrete and useful techniques to permanently raise our ratio.
This is a very stimulating, practical, and useful book. I highly recommend it.
Practical Leadership Development for Peak Performance Archived Webcast and Slides Download Now Available
The webcast is my voice through an audio broadcast synchronized with slides full of the usual animations and transitions I use when presenting in front of a group. We now have the broadcast available on our site for viewing as streaming audio and video on site here. When you click on this link you’ll also see the agenda of what was covered in the webcast.
So you can catch the webcast on your own time, show it at your next team meeting, or bring people together for a shared learning experience and do the assessment/discussion exercises recommended in the presentation.