Get Positive Tip #5: Be of Service
Martin Seligman, in his book, Learned Optimism , discovered that positive emotion separate from the sense of purpose or service to others leads to emptiness, inauthenticity, depression and a gnawing sense of meaninglessness (1).
We often are blind to the good we do ourselves, lost in habit or negative self-talk, but when we do good for others, we can see that our efforts create happiness and beauty in the world – which encourages our optimism that we can actually create good and make change.
Put bluntly, being of service to others distracts and counteracts our tendencies toward self-pity and a negative thought downward spiral.
Get Positive Tip #6: Magnify Love With Your Partner
Dr. John Gottman of the Love Lab up at the University of Washington is perhaps our leading researcher on what makes a happy couple. One of his key findings concerned how often we expressed positive and negative statements about our partners. The tipping point, he found, between couples who were doomed and those that flourished was a 5:1 ratio of positive statements to negative ones to each other (2).
In order to feel more optimistic about your relationships with a spouse, lover – or any family member, friend or colleague – boost your positive comments to them so that you are over that 5:1 ratio.
According to the research, the quality of your relationship will improve – and therefore, so likely will your positive feelings about it.
Get Positive Tip #7: Curate Your Brain
All great leaders know that the only way to be effective is to guard furiously what enters their brain. If you surround yourself with whiners and complainers, you will naturally tend to whine and complain – and feel negative.
If, by contrast, you surround yourself with positive people who take responsibility for their lives and don’t mourn their state, you will – by pure association – drop the negative spiral thought habits of blame, shame and complain (3).
I learned this powerfully when I was leaving a 4 day conference of entrepreneurs. I was in wonderment about why I was so happy having spent 4 days cooped up in a hotel in a freezing Washington DC suburb with 600 guys (and barely any women). And then it struck me – for 4 full days, I never heard anyone complain! All I heard was enthusiasm for self-improvement and solutions.