Thursday, April 23, 2015

Positivity ratios for buoyancy on a sea of rejection

I checked today, and my positivity ratio was 0.50. According to Daniel Pink and Barbara Fredrickson, the ratio of positive feelings to negative feelings has to get to at least 3.0 (3 positive feelings for every negative feeling) in order to get real emotional well-being.

I'm going to try tracking it over the next week and see if I can get it up there. Thankfully, Pink suggests a practical strategy for boosting your ratio: Strategically seek out experiences, encounters, conversations, people, etc. that will boost it.

It's a few chapters into his book, To Sell Is Human, in the section on buoyancy, the attribute we all need to be good movers of people. He says we are all confronted every day with an "ocean of rejection," and Pink suggests three general strategies for staying buoyant:

1) Before we attempt to move people (before class, before I apply for that job): replace negative self-talk AND positive self-talk with questions: Will I be able to move these people? And how?

2) During the process, while we're trying to persuade, stay buoyant by staying positive. That's where the ratio comes in.

3) Afterwards, if you're rejected, ask yourself three questions: Is it permanent? Is it pervasive? Is it personal? The answer is probably "No" to all three. "The more you explain bad events as temporary, specific, and external, the more likely you are to persist even in the face of adversity." Dispute and "de-catastrophize" your knee-jerk negative explanations.

He even suggests writing yourself rejection letters (this site will do it for you) to stay buoyant, and tells the story of one entrepreneur who kept all of his, and framed them when he became successful. Or try keeping track of every time someone doesn't "buy what you're selling" for a day or week. Pink says you'll be surprised by the sheer volume of small failures you actually survive.

Reminds me of what I was thinking last week when I wrote "Failures aren't failures, they're fuel." In fact, I guess as soon as I wrote it I wondered what I was thinking. But there's truth to it. It's all in the attitude. You just have to stay buoyant--see those failures as external.

For me, I think I'm starting to get to that place... some days. Not that I want failures, but maybe I don't fear them as much. They're like the water I'm swimming through, pushing off of, gaining strength from.

But I can see that this kind of Sisyphean perspective is not going to be enough. That's why what I liked best about this section in Pink was this practical plan: make it a priority every day to seek out positive interactions.

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