My ratio is off. And I’m not talking about the 34-26-34 measurements that rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot made so famous (though I could very well be but that’s another blog post for another time) . I’m talking about my positivity ratio.
Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, a woman who has spent twenty years researching the effect of thinking positively. She says that a 3:1 ratio is what we all should strive for in order to tap into our creative, resilient selves. Fredrickson isn’t talking about adding an orphan Annie -the-sun-will-come-out-tomorrow varnish to our day to day. She means that our emotions are powerful barometers in how we think about ourselves and others. “People who are languishing in life can move to flourishing,” she says, if we would tip our emotions over from negative to positive.
I’ve released four e-books in the past five months while juggling a teaching career and mothering responsibilities. I’ve changed careers (not just jobs) four times in the last six years. You’d think flourishing was something I had the cornered the market on. But taking the free quiz on the Positivity Ratio website, I found my ration was 1.83.
1. As in one. ONE. My negativity score was 6. As in six. SIX. This essentially means my mental habits are keeping me from being the person I could be. Fredrickson says positivity affects how we interact with others: how close we feel to them, how open we are, how fulfilled we can be in relationships.
I knew, at the core while I was answering the questions, that I was being hard on myself and on my day. The things that went well felt good, but only for the briefest flicker. The rest, any little rebuff or irritation, loomed larger than life or in any case, the positives.
In order to be a creative person, you have to have faith not only in your work but yourself. Stumbling across this book opened my eyes to something I said to a friend today.
“Your mind is like a fortress but in your case the enemy is inside. So there is no need to wage battle against you. Because the person inside will go open the door and let the intruders in.”
May seem like a weird insight, but it fit the conversation at the time. And now those words are for me. And you.
If you are trying to write, or paint, or make music, what is it that holds you back? Is it really writer’s block? Or is a crisis of faith of a kind, a slow eating away at the goal you have from the inside of your own mind?
I’m resolved to not only focus on the positive, but let it have it’s own weight when it goes on the scales of my mind. I’m hoping to tip over into positivity. And that this will show up as I go into yet another rewrite of my first novel. A manuscript that recently I realized was a mess. Instead of picking apart everything wrong with it, I’m going to try to work from the strengths.
What about you? What can you use a tip-over on? Writing, motivation, love?