Wendy Hoffman blogs about menopause and women's health—particularly focusing on how diet and nutrition can positively affect a woman's life around the age of menopause.See all posts »
A Positive Attitude Can Help You Flourish
Would you describe yourself as a positive person? One who finds positive meaning in day to day circumstances more frequently than negativity? If you’re sleep deprived and experiencing hot flashes all the time, you probably think this question is a joke. After all, when you feel lousy all the time, your default mode is more like cranky.
But after reading Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s book, Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3 to 1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life, I wondered if “positive” minded women have an easier time with the menopause transition (and other challenges) than negative types. Perhaps that would explain why some women sail through this time of great change with minimal discomfort, while others aren’t so lucky.
Your Positivity Ratio
Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D., is a leading scholar in the field of social and positive psychology. Her book isn’t a shallow, “don’t worry, be happy” type of self-help guide. Rather, she has concluded, based on twenty years of research, that maintaining a 3:1 ratio of positive thoughts to negative emotions creates a tipping point between languishing and flourishing. As she explains in her book:
“Most people have a 2:1 positivity ratio, which makes life ordinary. You get by, but you’re hardly growing. You’re languishing. As you raise your ratio above 3 to 1, a transformation occurs. You feel more alive, creative and resilient. You’ve stepped up to a whole new level of life.”
How To Calculate Your Positivity Score
If you’re wondering what your own positivity score is, begin by taking a two-minute self test that she has created on her website. Then use the available online tools to view your results and record positive milestones if you want to work on improving your score. You can take this test on a daily or weekly basis and compare your ratios to see if you’re making progress.
In addition, Dr. Fredrickson offers a toolkit in her book to help readers raise their positivity score by decreasing negativity and increasing positivity. An example of this is “dispute negative thinking,” an exercise that’s rooted in cognitive behavior therapy that teaches non-negative thinking.
In addition to just feeling better, I can imagine that experiencing life’s challenges and occasional disappointments from a foundation of positivity can shift our reactions and improve the quality of our lives and relationships, even during the menopause years.