What if reading the first paragraph made you anxious because you suddenly realized you monopolize work colleagues' time with your negativity? How do you even know for sure if you are pessimistic? Is it necessary to change? If so, what can you do to change?
Positive : Negative Ratios
> 3 : 1 but not more than 11 : 1 = Flourishing happens
< 3 : 1 = Languishing
< 1 : 1 = Depression is likely here
6 : 1 = High performing
> 1/2 of interactions are negative = Low performing, negative, outward focus for problems, stop questioning
3 : 1 = Tipping point for flourishing
5 : 1 = Happy
0.8 : 1 = Indicator of divorce looming
2.4 : 1 = More likely to experience infidelity than those 4 : 1
Quick exercises to boost your optimism
- Remember the Thought Checker I shared in December? This tool is perfect for tackling a negative thought you are having without having to share the negative thought with others. It's beneficial to figure out what your patterns of distorted thinking are so you can eventually catch yourself before or in the moment.
- Write down your pessimistic thoughts and designate a time later when you will take time to reflect on them. Don't allow yourself to give thought to the situation until the designated time (Colman).
- Try taking 20-30 minutes and write about how you visualize your best possible self in one year, five years, or 10 years time. Writing is important with this exercise.
- Wear a band on your wrist and snap it when you have a negative thought, then shift your thinking to something else. (Dascher, 108).
- Have a jar in your office for people to place money if they share a negative thought. When someone places money in the jar, help the person determine a more positive way to look at the situation. If nothing else, I bet you get some good laughs out of this exercise.
- Review your "What went well" and "Gratitude" journal entries.
Helping a pessimist
Before ending the discussion, tell the person you want to end on a positive note. Ask what has been going well for the individual or what they feel grateful for over the past few weeks. People who are struggling have a hard time with this so have a few things in mind that you've noticed.
Pessimism on social networking
Facebook conducted a study where they looked at how someone posting about the weather would affect the mood and types of responses in areas where the weather was not the same.
The researchers found that for every negative post, there were an extra 1.29 negative posts than normal in that person’s social network. Happy posts had an even stronger effect, with every upbeat statement causing an extra 1.75 positive posts in the social network. It should be noted some of these researchers were Facebook employees (Maldonado).
Akhtar, Miriam. Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression: Self-help Strategies for Happiness, Inner Strength and Well-being. London: Watkins, 2012. Print.
Colman, Jessica, MAPP. Optimal Functioning: A Positive Psychology Handbook. N.p.: Colman, 2010. Electronic.
Fredrickson, Barbara, PhD. "Positive Psychology." Coursera. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Mar. 2015. Lecture.
Fredrickson, Barbara, PhD. "Positivity Test." Positivity. Fredrickson, 2009. Web. 27 Apr. 2016. <https://www.positivityratio.com/index.php>.
Keltner, Dacher. Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. New York: W.W. Norton, 2009. Print.
Maldonado, Marissa. "The Anxiety of Facebook." PsychCentral. N.p., 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2016. <http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-anxiety-of-facebook/>.
Lyubomirsky, Sonja. The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. New York: Penguin, 2008. Print.
O'Hanlon, Bill, and Bob Bertolino. The Therapist's Notebook on Positive Psychology: Activities, Exercises, and Handouts. New York, NY: Brunner-Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2012. Print.
Peterson, Christopher. A Primer in Positive Psychology. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006. Print.
Top image is mine and edited using Font Candy / Second image is the Facebook logo that I edited on Font Candy