I called a friend yesterday to schedule a call later this week for some business we have together. “How are you?” I asked.
“NOT happy” she said.
“Me neither.” I replied.
“You?” she questioned. “You should be happy.”
“Well, I’m not. Could be the barometric pressure waiting for this storm to come in, or the Mercury retrograde, or it could be this procrastination I’m experiencing at getting up a head of steam on my new book project. Who knows? I’m working on it though.”
We both agreed that talking to one another was a bright spot in the day and enjoyed those minutes of interaction while we planned our next meeting. We left the call lighter and leaning slightly more into a state of positivity.
Most people make assumptions about me, someone who calls herself a happiness coach. And those assumptions have to do with my continually having the ability to control my emotional state and maintaining happiness all the time.
Not going to happen. I am so human.
Human beings are hard wired to look for what could be wrong or harmful in the environment. It keeps us safe, but often makes us crazy when the world around seems to be filled with “wrongness.” Sometimes the story we tell ourselves about what is happening around us (and to us) leads us to an unhappy, depressed and/or stressed state.
I fell into the study of happiness because I was under such stress at one time of my life that my health was in danger. (Admittedly, much of that stress was self induced, caused by the “horror” stories I was skilled at telling myself about my life).
So, I needed to learn how to master my own system before it went completely haywire on me. Being a single parent and small business owner, it was up to me to discover a better way to live, and a better example to give to my growing daughter.
Along the path I discovered the science of Positive Psychology (actually – it discovered me I think) and after eight years of study and practice, my life, as well as in the lives of my clients and readers, is getting more positive. That makes me happy.
But not all the time.
In Positive Psychology we study the work of Barbara Fredrickson and Marcial Losada who have discovered that the “tipping point” between languishing and flourishing is having three times more positivity in life than negativity.
That means when we can focus on the good stuff three times more than on the bad stuff, when we can focus on what we want three times more than on what we don’t want and when we can focus on what’s strong three times more than what’s wrong, our mindset tips and we begin to flourish.
Continued study shows that if we can raise that Positivity Ratio (take the test at this link) to around 5:1, we will begin to see high performance in our teams and in our relationships.
So, to all who think that a happiness coach has to spend all the time happy – there is a difference between being primarily positive and being Pollyanna.
It’s okay to have a bad hour, or a bad day as long as I am able to observe what is happening and see where I have a choice to change it. And every once in a while it even feels good to wallow in the bad for a short period of time. My life choice is to add more positivity to the planet, so I don’t wallow too long.
Humans have a bias towards the negative that has kept us from being eaten in the wild. I have a healthy respect for the human brain and how it has protected us and brought us to this place in time. And, I work everyday to outsmart my “Happiness Setpoint” which was genetically programmed at “grumpy” at birth.
My mood lifted yesterday shortly after that phone call, and I switched my focus and did something I enjoyed a little more than what I was doing. Every day in every way I am getting better and better – and you?