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“I’m a very positive thinker, and I think that is what helps me in the most difficult moments.“
FIERCELY AWARE: The Science: 1.2.1
A Powerful Antecedent
Camden, Arkansas is the home of one of the world’s oldest women. At 116, and shortly before her death in 2015, Gertrude Weaver shared her secrets for longevity. She advised us all use good moisturizer, cook our own food, treat everyone nice and love our neighbor. Gertrude’s wisdom is more than quant, grand-motherly-type, advice. Science agrees with her.
Barbara Fredrickson is a leading voice in the study of positivity. In, Positivity, she uses the term to describe the experience of one or more of the following – love, joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, awe and inspiration. While these experiences are transient, Frederickson’s research illustrates that when we experience positivity we are transformed with expanded mental, psychological, social and even physical resources. Activating these resources transforms our well-being, capability, and even possibly, our longevity.
Amy Blankson expounds on the potential for positivity, summarizing research that links positivity to:
- 10% increase in the level of engagement at work
- 23% decrease in the symptoms of fatigue
- 31% higher productivity
- 37% higher sales
- 40% increase in the likelihood of receiving a promotion
- 50% decrease in the risk of heart disease
- 300% more creativity
- and an incredible, 839% increase in the likelihood of living to age 94!
It is possible that positivity might even impact race relations. One of the most interesting recent studies on positivity was initiated by Kareem Johnson, former doctoral student of Barbara Fredrickson and currently at Temple University. Johnson posited that if positivity broadens the scope of our attention and makes it possible to see a bigger picture then positivity should also improve people’s ability to recognize faces. His research confirmed this to be true. Through a series of innovative experiments, he discovered that positive emotions improved people’s recognition of cross-race faces as well. Fredrickson concluded that, “Even things that tend to divide people like racial differences, seem to melt away when our hearts are warmed with positivity.”
In short, positive emotions are as instrumental in creating desirable outcomes, as they are a reflection of those outcomes.