Princeton Executive Coaching

Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson




"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, it is a habit."- Aristotle

"One practical consequence of positivity's mind-broadening powers is enhanced creativity. A broad mind changes the way you think and act in a wide range of circumstances. When you see more, more ideas come to mind, more actions become possible."

- Barbara Fredrickson

In a recent cartoon in The New Yorker, a clipboard-toting doctor breaks the news to an anxious patient that the results have come back and that he has "tested positive for being negative."

Barbara Fredrickson is a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a prolific researcher in the burgeoning field of positive psychology. In this book, she sums up the empirical research on ten positive emotions for a general audience and provides practical exercises to raise your level of positivity.

She notes that this book is not another on top of the now quite high pile of books on happiness. While many consider happiness as an end goal, she argues that positivity is a means to an end.


Her findings illustrate that both positive and negative emotions are important, universally experienced each day and have specific purposes. According to Fredrickson, the key is achieving a ratio of at least 3 to 1 (positive to negative emotions) on a consistent basis.

And the key to that is shifting how you think

Her research-based model shows that while negative emotions such as fear and anger are designed to narrow our attention, positive emotions serve to "broaden and build" our attention and our capacity for creativity, resilience and stronger connections with others.

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