A couple of years ago, I decided to find out about Positivity. It’s been a bold Journey
Is Positivity important?
It started when I heard this phrase once, “Perpetual Optimism”. It sat with me, resonated, a moment of ‘fascination’ worth paying attention to. It seemed significant and important to me, at any rate.
I figured that a lot of the achievements in my life have relied on people saying Yes. Which means that, I was interested in knowing more about positivity in the marketing profession – and everyone is in marketing these days.
A single positive event can turn a lifetime. Where to start?
She wrote the book on it
Amazon has a book called Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson. A happiness scientist! A rare gem amongst the thousands of academics that studied depression over the last 100 years. In the amusing book, the concept of Positivity was broken down into component parts.
Interest, Amusement, Hope, Inspiration, Joy, Love, Pride, Gratitude, Serenity, Awe.
I’ve rearranged them into some sort of order that wasn’t referred to in the book, it seems chronological doesn’t it? It all starts with having an interest, then follow the path.
The book talks about a positivity ratio. When you get to a 3:1 ratio of positivity to negativity then it becomes self sustaining, reinforcing, and good s*** happens. Probably when you get three quarters through the list above.
Follow the positive path
So, that autumn, when I was invited on an NLP taster course conceived and run by Mark Oborn; I said yes. It wasn’t a subject I warmed to, but I warmed to Mark and I thought of the ratio. I hoped it would help.
The upshot of thinking about positivity is that you start saying yes, because ‘no’ isn’t always positive, is it? A couple of years on, I am grateful for what I learnt.
Among many insights that day, Mark demonstrated the link between motivation, negativity and positivity. I didn’t get it – until he physically demonstrated motivation – by signposting a line between a positive flipchart on one side of the room, and a negative flipchart on the other.
Literally walking around to show that the negative ‘orientated’ waited until they were in danger of getting in trouble, and then they’d pedal ‘away from’ the source of the problem, towards the middle of the road. Once danger was out of sight, then they’d stop pedalling and drift backwards until the seat got warm again (somebody lights a fire under them).
See some light
As with all frameworks, it’s just one way of seeing the world, but it gave some clarity to several people in the room. Lack of motivation often led to a cycle of negativity. Trouble, work, trouble, work, trouble. Do you actually get anywhere? It depends if you know where you’re headed. And that, is where goals come in. Duh. I finally saw the link. Negativity is a downward spiral.
Positivity isn’t just some frame of mind. It’s an activity, it’s a path upwards. Goals are a way to change your mindset. If you want to remove negativity, a great way to start is by walking towards the positivity flip.chart.
Why hate negativity?
Negativity doesn’t exist in isolation, it’s probably a single timeline, although I don’t know, it feels like it isn’t something to ignore. It is a signpost towards a lack of positivity. A lack of the good things in life.
Here is a demonstration of negativity flipped in a great article everything is my fault, inspirational. The article shows how taking a positive stance changed the way he looked at his situation – I think about it often.
For me, it also got to the point regarding blame. When you let someone else determine your destiny, by waiting in the middle of the road, then whatever happens is always someone else’s fault. It steals your power. Don’t let people take that responsibility from you, it’s your right to keep control of the accelerator pedal and change direction.
Negativity is a deficit, intrinsically linked to blame, an abdication of being in control of your own life, by definition. Negativity stops progress.
Goals change games
When it’s easier said than done, start. by. saying: “I want to”….. then say, anything you want. Not always easy.
I decided to try this out. My 8 year old daughter and I were walking our dog round the lake; “If you could do anything you want, what would it be?” I asked her.
It turns out that she wanted to be able to talk to the animals. Number 1. The second thing she wanted, was to climb Snowdon. Who knew? The third thing, she wanted to play the drums. And so on.
This time, we wrote her goals down (someone, somewhere, said to write them down). This had the advantage of being able to talk them through. How do we make this happen I asked? 1st, see if Mummy can book some holiday, 2nd, look up some hotels. We had a fantastic few days in North Wales.
What I didn’t realise was the visible amount of confidence that she would get from ‘being in control’. She made it happen, she felt on top of the world. And we were. Goals, Motivation, Confidence. Ah. It was a joyful thing.
When my brother asked me ‘what can I get for her birthday?’, I knew exactly. The first few lessons went well, we’re currently studying for grade 1 drums.
What if I don’t know what I want?
If a goal involves things you don’t like, you might decide you don’t want it. Hmm.
You don’t start out being good at anything, it only gets that way over time. In the meantime, it’s uncomfortable, it can be humiliating, it involves fear. Strong words, strong feelings. Avoidance kicks in.
My own goal
Whilst most everyone I know would say that I like talking, they might not know that I don’t like crowds. Especially, if I have to speak to them.
But, you know, this positivity thing, yada yada. When I was asked to speak in front of a small crowd. I said yes. It wasn’t a given, but I was thinking of the positivity ratio.
I took a positive stance, and instead of saying “I don’t like speaking in front of people”, I started thinking “What I’d really like, is to be able to talk to crowds without being visibly uptight”. A goal can involve getting rid of obstacles.
Speaking of goals
After my pain inducing speech, I apologised to the organiser for my lack of ‘skills’ at which point, Becky suggested I might like to try the Toastmasters club she was a part of, at Cranfield University. It teaches people to handle public speaking. It is a friendly, supportive and a shared experience club. Of course, it had to be a yes. Ouch.
Last night, after a nearly a year of being in the Toastmasters club, I effectively did my third speech. Obviously, I didn’t volunteer, I still had to be asked to do it. The title of my speech was…
Positivity is for Muppets (irony in a speech title)
The theme of the evening was Muppets. You can’t get more positive than a Muppet. They certainly don’t mind feeling silly in front of an audience.
My speech was about the downsides of Positivity. One for later. I loved doing it.
As with all goals, you feel better afterwards than you do before they’re achieved. This time, I had these ribbons to keep me company on the drive home (woohoo). I’m proud of these.
The journey continues. In my case, it is with the help of some new friends to whom I owe a debt of gratitude. Firstly, thank you Sharon and Becky. And latterly; John, Jim, Atma, Allison, Daniel, Minje, Sunday, Maria, Paul, Karel, Maxime, Paul, Andy, Amaia, Amani and Alex, Gustavo and Stephen – and anyone else who knows me. I must buy a memory book.
If you’d like to attend a Toastmaster’s Demonstration event, then the next one is at Cranfield on the 22nd October, more details on the group facebook page. Maybe, we can help each other, it would be awesome.