Micro-Positivity

By Robin Saunders Ryan, PT MS

 

I want to talk more about the power of positivity… Trying to be positive when you’re experiencing stress or pain is difficult, and do-gooders who spout trite advice can come off as annoying, at best!

 

nesting birds

New research by Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, takes the pressure off of trying to be positive all the time. Her theory promotes “micro-moments” of positivity as a key to improving long-term well being. The concept is that repeated brief moments of positive feelings can provide a buffer against stress and depression and improve both physical and mental health.

 

After reading about this theory in Jane Brody’s April 3rd New York Times article (Turning Negative Thinkers into Positive Ones), I spent a day trying to be hyper-aware of tiny moments that made me happy. Here are a few things I remember:

 

  1. Discovering that birds moved into the new birdhouse I bought at last summer’s Uptown Art Fair.
  2. Noticing the bright, lime-green color of fresh buds on these really cool trees in my neighborhood. 
  3. Being charmed by the baby in the Target checkout line –she flashed me the BIGGEST toothless smile!

 

Try it out! Dr. Fredrickson’s research has shown that micro-moments of positivity are cumulative, and that we can train the circuitry in the brain to promote more positive responses with repeated practice.