Book Review: Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson

Book Review: Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson

How to Find the Upward Happiness Spiral


We’ve all come across the magazine articles that tell us we should be keeping a journal, the self-improvement gurus who preach gratitude, and the friends who extol their daily walks in nature with their dogs. The truth is most of us are aware of many ways that we can be happier but do we do them? I certainly try to do as many as I can: I journal, I meditate and I walk regularly in a beautiful country park not ten minutes from my home. Indeed a friend and I decided to swap drunken nights out for healthier walks and it’s been a positive improvement all round.

I can’t say that Ms Fredrickson’s book has told me much about the actual techniques to gain positivity that I didn’t know, although as it was published in 2009 I am wondering if much of what I know has actually been disseminated from her book and made it into everyday parlance. What it has made me think about is the idea of seeding positivity throughout my life, bringing it into as many areas as possible, so that it becomes a natural and quality addition.She discusses what she calls The Positivity Ratio, which is basically the time that you’re feeling positive and happy, divided by the time you are feeling sad, wretched or worthless. Watching your ratio climb higher is the goal. A good number to aim for is 3:1, she says.

The book is peppered with heart warming tales of people who changed their lives around by focusing on the positivity techniques within, and warning stores about trying to fake it. It doesn’t work: at least not the health benefits anyway. People report more resistance to stress, less pain, a feeling of closeness and connection to others and a bigger picture perspective as their ratios increased.

You can check your Positivity Ratio online here

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