Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, an expert on what it means to flourish in life, has done research that indicates that we need three positive emotional experiences for every negative emotion in order to flourish or thrive in our daily lives. For Fredrickson, positive emotional experiences include (and this is key for Empowered Wealth) gratitude, hope, joy, love, compassion, and contentment; while negative emotional experiences might include anger, disgust, embarrassment, fear, sadness, and shame. In her book “Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain” Elaine Fox describes neuroscience research that explains why these negative emotional experiences take so much emotional energy to overcome. It turns out that the amygdala and related brain structures that respond to perceived danger have more connections with the thinking parts of the brain than do the pleasure seeking parts of the brain. Furthermore, the prefrontal cortex – the part that has the potential to override these bursts of negative emotion and calm ourselves down – that “thinking” part of the brain has fewer connections back to the amygdala than the amygdala has to the prefrontal cortex. That’s why it takes three positive emotional experiences to override one negative one.
Empowered Wealth has developed a simple method that applies this science when you’re “having a bad day”.
- Begin with Gratitude. There are no rules here: find something, big or small, that you’re grateful for. Describe it to yourself (here’s a short video about Gratitude that goes into more detail about Gratitude);
- Think of a positive personal experience that you’ve had in the last week. Describe it to yourself;
- Think of a positive business or professional experience that you’ve had in the past week. Describe it to yourself.
Here’s a video that gives more background on Positive Focus: