The Power of Positive Emotions

This week we are exploring the power to initiate deep change as outlined by Robert E. Quinn in his terrific book The Deep Change Field Guide.

Deep change begins with a positive mindset.  When we focus on the negative, we see flaws and problems – both inside ourselves and all around us.  

Positivity, on the other hand, helps us make deep personal change and transform ourselves and our organisations.  When we focus on what is possible, a new vision for the organization emerges as we engage in spontaneous, creative, and productive conversations.  

Positive emotions such as joy, gratitude, hope, inspiration, awe, and love lead to thoughts that are “unusual and flexible, integrate differences, and are more efficient,” writes Robert.   

Positive emotions also allow us to deal with adversity and find meaning during challenging times.  

Barbara Fredrickson‘s extensive research demonstrates that positive emotions are necessary for learning because they allow us to envision more possibilities, set goals, and follow through on our planning.  Her work shows we can be intentional about increasing the positive emotions we experience by consciously paying attention to our “positivity ratio” which is simply the frequency of positive feelings divided by the frequency of negative emotions over a given period of time.  

When we experience fewer than three positive feelings to every negative feeling, we tend to lose energy and spiral downward.  Above a 3:1 ratio we tend to spiral upwards and become more open and creative.  

What is one of the most powerful, positive actions we can can take?

Keep a gratitude journal: Write down three things we are grateful for each day. 

For almost ten years, I’ve kept a gratitude journal. I am convinced this simple practice has had a profound impact on how I experience life. The research shows doing so for as little as 21 consecutive days can have a positive, lasting effect.

Choosing to be positive is the starting point for initiating deep change.  

It is also a choice which determines our quality of life.      

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Reflection:  Why are positive emotions so important to making cultural change?

Action:  Commit to keeping a gratitude journal for three weeks.

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