Creating Possibility

Increasing your positivity ratio - it's easier than you think

Karen Coulson - Wednesday, June 29, 2011

“Acknowledge the giver as well as the gift." Kc
My husband is in Queensland at the moment at a conference (I think he’s playing golf actually!)  The house is quieter, I can read in bed with the light on for longer but something else is happening - there’s a pile of ironing growing in the corner of the lounge room!  Over the years, he has taken over this ‘job’. It all started when his trouser legs somehow ended up with twin railway lines running down them and now the ironing is something he does.

Yet it’s not until he’s away, that I realize the difference it makes when he does it (or in this case, doesn’t do it!). In relationships - whether at work or home, there are a myriad of things others do that make a difference to us.  Yet we often get caught in a belief that is the antithesis of appreciation -  the concept of entitlement.

We justify ourselves for not acknowledging how someone has lightened our load with the belief that it’s part of ‘their’ job or role. We convince ourselves that they’re already getting their ‘reward’ - whether it’s the freshly ironed trousers or a paycheck. Why should we say ‘thank you’ as well?

John Gottman, renowned relationship professor found that one of the most powerful predictors of relationships being positive is the amount of positive interactions we have compared to negative ones. The ratio he found is quite startling.

How simple is it to increase our positive interactions by taking just a few seconds out of our day to say ‘thank you’.  The interesting thing is, the more we thank others for what they’ve done, the more likely they are to do it again!

Barbara Fredrickson, another eminent positive psychologist discovered another step we can take when expressing appreciation which will further increase our positivity ratio.

She found that if we acknowledge the positive ‘qualities’ we see exhibited in the actions of someone else (eg consideration, kindness, thoughtfulness) and express those as we thank them, there are even greater benefits for the relationship. 

So whether it’s  a family member, co-worker or  someone you interact with just once, rather than thinking it’s ‘their job’ - take a minute to say ‘thank you’ and let them know what qualities you see in them that made your day just that little bit easier. Who knows - someone may just do your ironing for you or even better!


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