A Letter From Our Executive Director

Hello Members and Friends – 

You have undoubtedly picked-up on my positive nature and preference for optimism. I have come to realize that living with positive outlook requires a lot of intentional work. Our world is not designed to think “good first.” There are a number of studies that point out the disproportionate number of words describing negative emotions versus the number of words describing positive emotions in the English language. You can visit www.english-at-home.com/vocabulary/english-word-for-emotions/ and see for yourself (as noted in the book “Switch,” written by Chip Heath & Dan Heath). Negative emotion words make-up about 75% of the emotional vocabulary list. You can see the uphill battle we’re facing to stay positive and how we can literally be at a loss for words to describe the good in certain situations. 

Nonetheless, it is worth the effort to build our “mental fitness and endurance” to consistently seek the positive experiences and potential in life. “Switch” also directed me to research conducted by Barbara L. Fredrickson, titled “What Good are Positive Emotions?” Fredrickson claims that “experiences of certain positive emotions prompt individuals to discard time-tested or automatic (everyday) behavioral scripts and to pursue novel, creative, and often unscripted paths of thought and action.” She lays out how positive emotions expand your ability to be cognitively flexible and effective. Whereas negative emotions narrow thought and limit creative, out of the box solutions. 

In her paper, Fredrickson also states how “positive emotions might serve as effective tools for regulating negative emotions.” This is especially relevant to the times we are living in now. We are being served a heavy dose of signature negative emotions – anxiety, fear, and sadness. If we can cultivate positive emotional practice, we can recover from negative emotions quicker, thus reducing the amount of time we spend “living” in negative emotional states. Fredrickson references studies where simply recalling a positive experience, viewing an uplifting video, and even receiving an unexpected smile, can reverse the cardiovascular response that is brought on by negative emotions. As you know I’m a fan of the “Energy Bus,” by Jon Gordon and this is consistent with rule #3 outlined in that book – “Fuel your Ride with Positive Energy.” Coincidently, “Have You Filled a Bucket Today,” by Carol McCloud was lying on my daughter’s bed last night (we read it), which is a children’s book encouraging the same behavior – fill your “bucket” and other people’s “bucket” by saying nice things. 

So, it’s hard and can often feel like, “this is ridiculous – this positive emotional fluff is a bunch of crap and can’t possibly yield any tangible results!” Thankfully people like Barbara L. Fredrickson have dedicated themselves to proving otherwise. And remember, positivity doesn’t mean the absence of negativity. It just helps you deal with it more productively, so you have more time and energy to soak up the blessings in your life.

Stay active and be well!

Yours in good health,
Ian Yorty
Executive Director