Article of the Week: "Turning Negative Thinkers Into Positive Ones"

Introduction

In a recent article from The New York Times, Personal Health columnist, Jane Brody, explores the advantages of positive thinking – even if only for a few moments a day.

Summary

Barbara Fredrickson is a psychologist at the University of North Carolina. She has done extensive research on fostering positive emotions and came up with a theory called "micro-moments of positivity." These micro-moments refer to events from everyday life. Fredrickson's research shows that people who are able to generate positive thoughts and feelings towards everyday tasks are more likely to succeed than those who do not.

Negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions are normal phenomenon of life. However, Fredrickson's research proves that "chronically viewing the glass as half-empty is detrimental both mentally and physically and inhibits one’s ability to bounce back from life’s inevitable stresses." The amygdala is the part of the brain which processes negative emotions. Another researcher and neuroscientist, Dr. Richard J. Davidson found that people who recover slowly from negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, or threat are more likely to develop health problems.

Both Dr. Fredrickson and Dr. Davidson found that practicing mindful meditation with a focus on kindness and compassion generate changes in the brain that increase positive thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

Aside from mindful meditation, Dr. Fredrickson and other professionals recommend trying a few of the following things to promote a more positive mind:

  • Do good things for people around you - even if it's as small as opening the door for someone!
  • Appreciate the world around you. It's the little things that make life great. Take a detour to watch the sunset or admire the trees swaying in the wind.
  • Develop and bolster relationships. Surrounding yourself with friends and family increases self-esteem.
  • Establish goals that can be accomplished. Being un-realistic about goals can be a downer when they don't come to fruition. Aim high, but keep yourself grounded.
  • Learn something new. Again, be realistic! Don't frustrate yourself by trying something you're going to fail at - ease into it. The more you learn, the more you want to learn.
  • Choose to accept yourself, flaws and all. Narrow in on your positive attributes. The rest are pesky details.
  • Practice resilience. Use your negative encounters as learning experience for how to better handle your emotions in the future: "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."
  • Practice mindfulness. "Let go of things you can’t control and focus on the here-and-now. Consider taking a course in insight meditation.

Why We Care

Here at PFCS, we strive to keep a positive environment. To maintain an upbeat atmosphere, it is important that each of us exercise a positive attitude. The more positive feelings and emotions harvested in the workplace, the more productive we can be! The list above is a nice, concise summary of best practices we can use both in our work and in our personal lives.