Positivity at Home and at Work
Updated: Oct 22, 2019
Last weekend I arrived at the perfectly manicured 1440 Multiversity, where the Greater Good Science Center (CGSC) brought together the global community of thought leaders in the science of happiness for a three-day educational and experiential event.
From inspiring awe and compassion meditations at dawn led by Dr. Eve Ekman to workshops led by powerhouses such as Barbara Fredrickson and Richard Davidson, this event fed both the heart and the mind. Jack Kornfield’s beautiful compassion guidance was most illuminating.
People from all over the world gathered, connected, learned, and transformed. Why is there so much yearning to learn about happiness? Perhaps it is because finally our quest is justified as going beyond the realm of philosophy. Positive psychology has been able to back up our most human questions and experiences by science - and we all came to learn how this happiness skill-set can be cultivated.
Simply practicing having a positive mindset and experiencing positive emotions is one of the primary tenants of positive psychology.
Barbara Fredrickson shared her impactful research on positive emotions and her broaden and build theory. The broaden part says that when we have a momentary feeling of positivity, this fundamentally changes the way the human brain works. Brain imaging and eye tracking studies show that the boundaries of our awareness actually expand while we experience positive emotions. We literally see more in the periphery and are able to take new ideas. In turn, this expands our capacity for creative thinking. This is a temporary effect of positive emotions, but little by little this nourishes our growth and creates opportunities to build inner resources, like resilience, opportunities for learning and resourcefulness.
One of the best ways to feel positive emotions is through connections. Other people matter! Fredrickson explains the concept of positivity resonance - people co-experiencing positive emotions. Positivity resonance is the building block of love - micro moments of shared positivity; this can include sharing a laugh or celebrating a loved one’s success.
Try the “Fast Friends” exercise next time you’re at a dinner party or by the coffee machine at the office to build real trust and get past the superficial small talk! Developed by Arthur and Elaine Aron, this exercise includes 36 questions that open the door to real bonding.
My new fast friend and I shared that we both wished we could sing and had a passion for adventurous travel. We both lit up talking about the far away places we wanted to go. Each of us went away with a sense of validation, understanding, and enhanced closeness.