How to Replace Negativity with Positive Emotions

barbara fredricksonAs a coach, I see all too often what a challenge it is to overcome negativity when it’s become a habit. I think a lot about how we can keep from getting to what I call that “dark place.” There is a solution, says Barbara Fredrickson PhD, professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

“Positive emotions help speed recovery from negative emotions,” Fredrickson told Entrepreneur magazine columnist Joe Robinson in the January issue. “When people are able to self-generate a positive emotion or perspective, that enables them to bounce back.”

So how can you counter your “negative loops” with your positive resources: joy, hope, gratitude, awe, and other buoyant emotions? According to Fredrickson, author of Positivity, these emotions have the power to literally calm our blood pressure. And we need at least three positive emotions to offset each emotion that drags us down. And they don’t have to be particularly intense. They just need to be frequent.

So how can you stockpile this antidote to the dark place? Here are four ways:

1. Gratitude. Ask yourself, what I am failing to appreciate in this situation?

2. Connection. Share something, like an interest or amusement.

3. Pause. Step back, take a break.

4. Music. My fave: Mozart.

The payoff, Fredrickson says, is real. “There’s really solid evidence that the positive emotions you feel today predict toorrow’s and next week’s and next month’s success, health and quality relationships, because they build your resources and resilience.”

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