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Our thought of the week has been specially curated by Reiki practitioner, Diana Edwards, with a diploma in Positive Psychology.

In our society, feeling good is underrated, undervalued and misunderstood. Most people tend to think there’s nothing valuable about feeling good, other than the soft fuzzy feelings that feel good for a bit and then pass. And because we don’t see the value in it, we fail to prioritise doing things that make us feel good. I get it. I used to be the same way­—until I learned about the Broaden and Build Theory.

The Broaden and Build Theory explains that there’s actually a biological purpose for positive feelings, just as there are for negative emotions. Negative emotions are about survival. They narrow our thought-action repertoire, which when faced with a life threatening situation enables us to focus on doing the one thing that will save our life. In this case, it really is life saving to have our thinking narrowed because it’s not the time to have lots of thoughts, ideas and possibilities about what we can do. We need one decision quickly to act on to hopefully save ourselves.

Positive feelings do the opposite. They have a broadening effect on our minds and hearts which expands our thought-action repertoire. This means we have more thoughts and actions available to us, opening us up to more possibilites. And because we’re open to more possibilities it means we have a greater ability to develop into more of our potential—of what we’re capable of doing and who we’re capable of being. This is why positive feelings are in fact, a fundamental stepping stone to flourishing and thriving in life.

The science of positivity and success

Positivity has been linked to all types of successes including getting more promotions, doing better at work, getting paid more, better customer evaluations, better supervisor evaluations, fewer sick days, better physical health, collaborating with others, getting along with colleagues better, stronger friendships, more satisfying marriages, more resilience and more creativity.

When it comes to linking positivity and success, there have been almost 300 studies done with more than 275,000 people. Then, there was a meta-analysis done on the 300 studies to come to one finding, which was that positivity produces success.

This is not to say that you can’t have success unless you’re happy and feeling positive. It’s saying that success doesn’t guarantee happiness, however, happiness does actually pave the way for us to experience more success, because when we’re feeling good, positivity has a strengthening effect on our brains, our bodies, and our relationships—all of which puts us in a better position to achieve success.

Positive feelings strengthen our brain by increasing it’s capabilities; they strengthen our bodies by creating a healthy chemical environment in our bodies that is restorative and health giving meaning we’re in better health to be able to do more; and the strengthening of our relationships builds social resource, which has been shown to be the most important factor in our long term health, wellbeing and success.

If you feel like you’ve been stuck in life, or are not having the success you’ve been working towards, it’s possible that you’re not experiencing enough positivity.

What can you do to feel better right now? Maybe you could do with a break to go and meditate, exercise, have a dance, or a heart to heart with a good friend.

What about the longer term? Are there issues you’re avoiding dealing with? Maybe a challenging conversation, an issue from the past, or a decision to be made about the future? Have the courage to be honest with yourself because that’s the only way we’re able to genuinely create the kind of positivity that will make a real difference to our lives for the better.

If you would like to know how to increase the positivity in your own life, find out more on my website – www.dianaedwards.com.au.

Sources:

Fredrickson, B. L. (1998). What good are positive emotions? Review of General Psychology, 2, 300-319.

Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218-226.

Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 803-855.

Shenk, J. W. (June 2009). What makes us happy? The Atlantic Monthly.