Business Success: Be More Positive than Negative

In business, levels of happiness and positivity create success. A positive brain has more intellectual resources. What’s needed is to improve your positive/negative ratio.

I never knew this, but it makes sense: in chemistry and physics there is something called activation energy: in order to catalyze a reaction, there is an initial investment of energy that is the highest amount of energy in the formula or process. In other words, the start up is more costly. If you want to change your habits, or your thinking, you need to pay attention to this.

The same can be said of both our cognitive and physical actions. In order to think new thoughts or develop a new habit, there is an initial investment of energy that’s high. If you can lower this amount of initial energy, you can increase the chances of successfully acquiring a new habit.

Let’s say you want to start exercising. There’s resistance at the point when it’s time to go to the gym. You can lower the activation energy by putting your gym shoes and gear near the door, or in your car. If you’re really resistant, you can wear your gym clothes underneath your work outfit, thereby reducing even further the effort required to get into exercise mode.

Conversely, you can raise the activation energy required if you want to stop a bad habit. Let’s say you want to quit smoking or watching TV. By hiding the cigarettes or the lighter, or the remote, you make it more difficult to slide into your old habits.

I am reading about levels of happiness and positivity ratios and how important these are to success in business. A positive brain has more intellectual resources and increases our levels of energy, thereby ensuring more success at a task than when tackled with a negative mindset. But the challenge comes because stress, negativity and uncertainty are everywhere. How do you turn that around?

There are several groundbreaking studies that prove having a 3 to 1 positive to negative ratio is key to success in many fields, including business leadership.

This is explained in depth in an excellent book, Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive, by Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D., available on Kindle.

While thinking and saying positive things seems like common sense, in order to reap the benefits and go from average to flourishing, studies show you must obtain a 3 to 1 positive to negative ratio to benefit. This ratio holds true for studies of marriages, business teams and many other populations.

Most of us operate with a 2 to 1 ratio of positivity to negativity. Depressed people are around 1 to 1. In order to go from average to flourishing, there’s a tipping point of 3 to 1.

Here are the benefits of positive emotions:

  1. Positivity feels good
  2. Positivity changes how our brain works
  3. Positivity can transform your future
  4. Positivity puts the brakes on negativity
  5. Positivity has to reach a tipping point for it to provoke optimal benefits (3 to 1 ratio)

There are studies to show that mindfulness, meditation, and other means of tapping into positivity can lower stress, boost your immune system and even prolong your life ten years.

It’s possible to improve your positivity ratio in two ways:

  • Reduce the frequency and intensity of your negative thinking
  • Increase the frequency and intensity of your positive emotions

There are a number of ways to do both or either. To start, however, I recommend measuring your own positivity using Dr. Fredrickson’s online self-test found at

Let me know what you think, I’d love to hear from you.

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