“It's all in your perception. If you see your tasks in life as drudgery, then they are drudgery. On the other hand, if you see them as gifts of the Universe manifest through you, then your tasks are done in the spirit of love and generosity. You step out of your ordinary life and make it extraordinary. Little by little, you realize that your life truly makes a difference and you are filled with a wondrous sense of gratitude and abundant flow. A heavenly feeling, indeed! Yes, it's all in your perception.”
Gratitude, Positive Emotions and Success
“(Positive Psychology) studies show that negative emotions can be harmful to your health and might even shorten your life. We already know that one negative person can ruin a workplace, but negative emotions can also destroy relationships, families, and entire careers.
“In contrast, recent discoveries suggest that positive emotions are an essential daily requirement for survival. Not only do they improve your physical and mental health but they can also provide a buffer against depression and illness.”
- Tom Rath & Donald O. Clifton, How Full Is Your Bucket
Gratitude and Success
In my eBook Emotional Mastery, I describe how to accept, change and rise above negative emotions. I also describe ways to create positive emotions.
One of the simplest and most powerful ways to let go of negative emotions and create positive emotions is practicing gratitude and appreciation.
The more grateful and appreciative you feel, the less negative and more positive you'll feel. The more positive you feel, the more likely you will be to take effective action, which will make you feel good about doing well.
It's a virtuous circle, and upward spiral into thriving. Gratitude leads to positive emotions, which leads to better performance in all aspects of life and work, which, in turn, leads to more positive emotions.
Your Positivity Ratio
Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson has shown that a ratio of 3 positive thoughts/feelings to 1 negative is the bare minimum needed to feel happy and engaged.
Below the 3:1 tipping point, people tend to languish in a problem-filled life. You're in danger of sliding into pessimism, depression and despair. In those states, creating success becomes very difficult.
A ratio of 3:1 or above, to a point, makes you feel good, happy, and engaged. You create more effective results and relate better to friends, family and colleagues. Your emotional and physical health improves. You flourish.
Somewhere around 5:1 or 6:1 is probably the optimum ratio. Too high (over 10:1 and you run the risk of slipping into Pollyanna-land, and ignoring reality-as-it-is. Not a good approach. If you're not paying attention, reality can blindside you.
The benefits of positive emotions are numerous. More meaning and purpose in life. More social support. More effectiveness at what you choose to do. Better able to savour life and activities. Better health. More energy. Fewer aches, pains and physical ailments. Sounder sleep!
The Power of Gratitude
Gratitude means “being thankful; ready to show appreciation for.”
Many benefits come from practicing gratitude on a daily basis. You feel better emotionally and physically. You have less stress and more joy. You experience more vitality. Gratitude can even make you more successful at what matters to you.
When you are grateful and appreciative for the good and beautiful things in your life, you tend get more of what you want in life and work. Why? Because, largely, you get what you focus on and act on.
When you notice and give thanks for what you are grateful for, you focus on what you care about. Energy-robbing negativity fades away. In its place, you feel energized, motivated. When you put your energy into action, you increase your chances of creating what you most want to create.
The Universe Wants You To Succeed
Gratitude for what is and what happens helps you define life — the Universe — as friendly, a place in which to feel at home, to succeed and thrive.
Seeing the Universe as friendly increases your confidence, allows you to learn, and, thus, increases your competence. Increased competence strengthens your sense of authentic confidence. Another upward spiral!
The Universe wants us learn, change, and evolve. It wants us to free ourselves from habits that don’t work, and transform ourselves and our species. It wants us to enlighten ourselves and stretch our consciousness to embrace more and more of Life and the Universe.
It wants us "Yes!" to life — to ways of living in harmony with the systems on which all of our health, wealth and well being depend. The Universe is no dummy; if we succeed, it succeeds.
As we learn to live well on a healthy planet, we create ripples of positive emotions. Not just the fleeting, surface emotions, but deep, meaningful, life- and world-changing emotions such as love, enthusiasm, compassion, contentment, and connection to meaning and Spirit.
From such a deep, solid foundation, creating what matters becomes easier. And although it becomes more challenging, life gets more engaging, exciting, and fulfilling.
The ability to consistently say, "Thank you; I appreciate this!" to life — and whatever it gives you — is the most all-encompassing way to produce positive emotions and successful results.
So, how do you do this? How do you practice gratitude? Here's a few suggestions:
Notice when good things happen to you, and when you do good things. Notice how you feel. Appreciate that feeling. Hold it. Be grateful for it.
Smile at people for no reason. Say “Thank you” to someone, or to a bird with a cheery song, or to the Universe for giving you this day.
Practice "stopping" during the day and spend a few minutes just noticing something or someone you appreciate. I stop on a bridge over a little brook on my way home from lunch each day. I lean on the railing and watch the water flow. It's very soothing, calming. Stopping almost always generates deep feelings of gratitude and delight.
Try a 10-minute "Like Walk." About every 90-120 minutes, get outside and move your body for a minimum of 10 minutes. Unlike my old walks, during which I'd ruminate on problems and difficulties, a "like walk" lets me focus on things I like and appreciate.
As I walk, I say (usually to myself) I like the clouds, I like the sunshine, I like birdsong, I like the greening trees, I like that smiling baby, I like those old split-cedar fences beside the path…"
When I come in from a like walk, I'm less stressed, more alert, better able to focus and work effectively. My mood is up. My positivity ratio is up. My blood pressure is down. I feel energetic and ready to tackle what's next in my work.
Start a “gratitude journal.” Each evening, write down 6 or 7 things that you’re truly grateful for, that you appreciate about the day, yourself or other people. Writing and reading these notes can fill your heart with pleasant, empowering gratitude.
Even try to be grateful for difficult and challenging things. Try to see adversity as an opportunity for learning, growth and expanding your capacity to create results, with whatever life throws you. Look for the gift in adversity, the opportunity in crisis.
Experimenting With Positivity
I know some of this might sound hokey. It did to me when I first read about it.
But, when I do it, it works! I've experimented with all of the above methods, and more. They make me feel better. It's easier for me to figure out what I truly want. And easier for me to create and sustain the results I most want to bring into being.
Why not give it a try. You’ve got nothing to lose, except negative emotions and bad moods — and a pleasant, successful, grateful and flourishing life to gain.
For more on Gratitude and Success see my HubPages article "How Gratitude and Positive Emotions Help You Create Success," at http://bruceelkin.hubpages.com/hub/Gratitude--Positive-Emotions--and-Success
VIDEO: Barbara Fredrickson on Positivity
Positivity is quite different than the old "positive thinking." And much more effective.
Positive Psychologist and author of Positivity Barbara Fredrickson gives a very clear and succinct explanation of Positivity in this short video, "Positive Emotions." http://youtu.be/Ds_9Df6dK7c
After watching it, you can measure your own positivity ration at
"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude."
— Cynthia Ozick
"Gratitude is not a condition, it's a decision. It's a decision we make to look past the apparent problems in our life and find the good."
— Wes Hopper
"When you are grateful, you get to enjoy everything twice.'"
— Sam Hazo
"....... a life that is vowed to simplicity, appropriate boldness, good humor, gratitude, unstinting work and play, and lots of walking brings us close to the actual existing world and its wholeness."
— Gary Snyder
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
- Melody Beattie
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