The “Positivity Effect”
By Miranda Woody-Martin
‘In psychology and cognitive science, the positivity effect is the ability to constructively analyze a situation where the desired results are not achieved; but still obtain positive feedback that assists our future progression.’ – Wikipedia definition of “The Positivity Effect’
We’ve all been there: searching for inspirational quotes, or various affirmations on the Internet when we’re feeling down in a desperate effort to simply make it to tomorrow. Although I, myself, am a huge fan of inspirational quotes and positive affirmations (and probably send them out into the worldwide Web a bit too frequently for my own good), there is so much more to living a positive life than the words we form in our minds and mouths.
Essentially, everything including the way we think, act and react to daily stressors, challenges, and even positive experiences says a lot about how “positively” or “negatively” we are living our lives. For example: you may have a positive quote hanging on your wall and you might listen to The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” twenty times a day, but that doesn’t inherently make you a “positive” person. Your thoughts, actions and reactions might still be limiting your ability to truly obtain positive progression (or the positive progression of those around you).
That being said, you very well might be blocking your own positive progression (or that of someone close to you) more than you even know, or understand. Although it’s important to think positively, it’s also important to have a reality check every once in a while.
If we never “check” ourselves (as in, examine our own toxic or “bad” behaviors that might be impeding our daily successes or overall enjoyment of life), we might just wreck ourselves. Okay, so that’s super corny; but it’s so true. It took me many years to understand that just because I meditated and did yoga three times a week with my gal-pals didn’t make me a “positive” (or even a “good”) person; that’s where “the positivity effect” comes in to play.
Defined above, the positivity effect is a skill like any other. It’s defined as an “ability”, which means it must be practiced in more ways than one (and at length) to get the full effect. This means examining our toxic behaviors and taking steps to eliminate them, as well as continuing to practice our affirmations, meditation, and any other activity that incites positive thoughts and reflection.
Overall, the positivity effect suggests (to me) that positivity doesn’t always mean being comfortable. That is the goal, of course, but as we all know: the journey itself is just as important.
So, what are some more “uncomfortable” steps you had to take in order to lead a more positive life? Did you have a bad habit, or series of destructive thoughts you had to confront in order to change for the better? Let’s discuss in the comments below, and remember to always check ourselves; we might just help others by helping ourselves, after all.