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I will try to create more happiness and less unhappiness in the world around me


Action 38

Boost your positivity ratio

Science shows that intentional acts can be used to induce good feeling. It also suggests having at least three times as many positive emotions as negative ones can have a lasting impact on our happiness. So why not work on getting this balance right for you and those around you?

Why do it?

Feeling positive emotions make us happy in the short term and experiencing enough of them helps to build our wellbeing and our ability to cope in tough times. So feeling good now helps us feel good in the future too. And more, this can have a positive knock-on effect for others.

Where to start
1. Track your positivity ratio
  • Check out your current Positivity Ratio - to see how it is today - using this free, quick and easy free test (it's one that psychologists often use).
  • Try doing it each day for a week or so, noting down your ratio and see if it changes. What do you think made it change? Do you need to boost your level of positive emotions?
2. Explore your positive emotions
  • Make a list of ten positive emotions that you can think of. For example, these might include joy, inspiration, contentment, serenity, amusement, pride, interest, or gratitude.
  • Pick one emotion from your list and then note down things that tend to generate this emotions for you.
  • Think back to the last time you felt this emotion… what was it that you were doing? Where were you? What was happening around you? What other things could make you feel this way?
  • What could you do to bring more of this into your life today or this week? Being more conscious of these things will help us to spot opportunities for to experience them.
  • Now repeat this for each of the other emotions in turn. You may wish to pick one per day or per week, to reflect on.

3. Put together a positive pack

  • Think of a positive emotion you'd like to feel more of. Collect together things that you associate with this emotion. This could include music tracks, pictures, photographs, poems, lines or quotes from books, video clips, objects that bring back memories etc. Depending what you collect keep these things in a box, online or in a note book or scrap book).
  • Find a few minutes to spend with your collection reflecting on the emotion you want to feel. Remember the action doesn't need to be big and feeling the emotion doesn't need to be earth shattering - a passing moment is fine.
  • Your pack could also include actions - simple things you can do that you know often bring you that emotion. For example if you want to try joy, you might have listed singing your favourite song at the top of your voice. For serenity it might be a walk in your favourite nearby green space.

4. Keep it up. Mix it up.

  • Of course there are times when positive emotions come easily and there are times when it is harder. Even when things are tough try to think of something that will distract you for the positive for a moment. And don't forget to try different actions and emotions - some will work better for each us at different times than others. Have fun!

Based on Barbara Fredrickson's research on positive emotions - summarised in lay terms in her book: Fredrickson, B. L. (2009). Positivity: Groundbreaking research reveals how to embrace the hidden strength of positive emotions, overcome negativity, and thrive. New York: Crown Publishing Group.


  • Discover the power of the 3-to-1 Ratio with Dr. Barbara Fredrickson

  • Discover the Groundbreaking Science to Release Your Inner Optimist and Thrive

click to view

Positive emotions make us more resilient

Our emotions affect our long term well-being. Research shows that experiencing positive emotions in a 3-to-1 ratio with negative ones leads to a tipping point beyond which we naturally become more resilient to adversity and better able to achieve things.

Positive Emotions

"I've been able to show that fear closes down our minds and our hearts, whereas positive emotions literally open our minds and hearts... they really change our mindsets and our biochemistry"

Barbara Fredrickson

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson
Professor of Psychology, University of North Carolina

Being grateful

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom"

Marcel Proust

Thank You