The 3: 1 positivity ratio, also known as the Losada ratio in honor of its creator Marcial Losada, is a positive psychology concept that presents a “formula” for prosperity. Together with Barbara Fredrickson, also a psychologist, Losada’s research led him to discover a 2.9013 positive to negative affect for happier people.
What does this mean? Essentially, it means that in order to rise above people who are simply languishing, you must experience three positive experiences for each of the negative ones. Losada’s experimentation showed that people who followed this ratio remarkably flourished and even referred to the 3 to 1 concept as a kind of magic number.
Since its inception, this critical positivity relationship has faced much praise and criticism, ultimately resulting in its discrediting due to critical reasoning and insufficient academic sources. However, while we cannot take the exact positive ratio of 3 to 1 to count in our lives, there are still some lessons to be learned from it.
But how can you learn from something discredited? Well, the critical positivity ratio had one thing right: negative events they are a standard part of life, and you don’t need to eradicate them to be happy. Sometimes you need to do positive things to combat them. With that in mind, here are 6 easy ways to combat stress with the 3 to 1 positivity ratio.
1. Start small
The goal of the positivity relationship is to work to experience positive events that combat or even nullify the negative. It can definitely sound like a very difficult task, and that’s understandable. The trick, then, might be to start small.
In what little ways can you give yourself a positive experience today? How can you do simple things that enhance your happiness without becoming overwhelmed?
- Smile at someone you see
- Pay someone a compliment
- Play your favorite music
- Watch an episode of your favorite show
- Play a game for half an hour
- Treat yourself to a good meal
- Dress up in your favorite outfit
- Buy yourself something small that you’ve been wanting
- Hug a loved one
Positive Things don’t have to be huge to have a significant effect, so don’t worry about spending a large amount on happiness. In fact, research indicates that having large amounts of wealth can reduce your ability to enjoy the little things in life. So focus on doing what you can with what you have and you will find that those little moments of positivity can reduce your stress significantly.
2. Accept that negativity is part of life
It is a simple fact that negativity is normal. It is not possible for everything to be positive constantly, all the time, and to expect that is to expect the irrational. Ironically, fearing the negative only makes it occur to you!
This means that you must begin to learn that it is okay to feel negative emotions and be in negative situations. Accepting that there are ups and downs will help you feel motivated to counter them with positivity, and you will also be more open to learning how to better handle future negativity.
In other words, if you accept negativity, you accept that stress is bound to happen. Accepting it allows you to prepare for it and develop positive and healthy coping mechanisms that will allow you to handle that stress in a good way.
3. Reconnect your biases
Many people have natural ways of thinking that have been imposed from an early age. Often times these are dictated by the prejudices of those around you. Unfortunately, most people perceive negative things more severely than positive things, resulting in an unfair and very pessimistic view of the world.
Of course, completely reconfiguring your brain is not an easy task and it seems like a lot to do to combat stress. But in the long run, it will permanently change the way you respond to circumstances and handle stress, which will pay off for the rest of your life! Here are some tips to try this momentous task:
Expand your point of view
You are the only person who has full control over your responses to events. It is you who decides how to respond and perceive different experiences. If your brain is naturally reduced to one of negativity in any situation, then stress will surely follow. Expand your horizons and understand that there are several different ways to react to things that happen without letting stress rule.
Rewrite the negativity bias
In any given situation, there is likely to be a good thing and a bad thing. If you have the same negativity bias that plagues most of the world, chances are you’ve naturally amplified the bad, so rewrite that narrative! Instead of getting stuck on the bad parts, shift your attention to the good and devote as much, if not more, of your energy to it. You will find that it is harder to be stressed when you are optimistic, even cautious.
Do not be controlled by isolated events
Negative events can have long-lasting effects on the human mind. But if you allow isolated bad moments to control your entire life and dictate your behavior, you’re basically throwing positive thinking to the wind from the beginning. Individual negative events do not spell the end of the world and nothing you experience is permanent. Instead of being under the influence of stress each time, shift your attention to focusing on moving forward. However, if you are experiencing severe PTSD, you should speak to a qualified mental health professional for help.
4. Take risks
It may seem a bit counterproductive to try to combat stress by potentially opening up to more, but it actually works better than you might expect! The act of taking risks is actually a skill. The first time you do it, it will be extremely stressful. But the more you work at it and the more often you do it, the more likely you are to realize that risks, when taken with critical thinking, are often good things.
How is this related to the 3 to 1 positivity ratio? Well, risks generally involve a fair mix of positives and negatives. By taking more risks, you are training yourself to find the three positives (or more) for each negative. You will get better and better at taking risks!
Sometimes you can’t find the positive in a situation. That’s when you have to create it yourself! Regaining control over negative events helps combat stress as you focus your energies on making things better for yourself. Your stress will melt away as you learn more and more actions you can take to combat it while improving your ratio. Here are some ideas for creating the positive:
Turn some positives into habits
The human brain is much more likely to thrive in the presence of routine and habit, according to investigation. It is also easier to perform certain tasks and do certain things when they are connected to your memory as habits. So add certain things you love to do to your daily routine! Whether it’s watching your favorite show or spending time with your loved ones, turning the positive into a routine means that you are always guaranteed a few positive things every day, increasing your positivity rate!
Just as it is important to incorporate positivity into your routine, it is also important to create positive experiences that are out of the ordinary. After all, nothing but routine can get a bit boring. So add some variety to the good stuff on your positivity index. Remember, you deserve to be treated well and pampered, even if it’s just for you!
Very small things can feel like candy! You don’t have to spend a lot of money or even a lot of time giving yourself a small gift every now and then. Soaking in a good bath, eating a sweet dessert, buying a nice drink with lunch, and other such treats are all wonderful ways to increase your ratio. Try rotating these treats to give them a fresh feel and keep the experience that they are rare and special.
· Take a break
Even if it is very busy, we can all benefit from a break. Put work on hold for just a few minutes and do something else when you feel stress levels rise, or walk away to recuperate during negative events if you can. This will combat stress and also increase your productivity and effectiveness once you return. Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing wrong with resting and it does not make you lazy or inactive. Your brain is always working and continues to improve even while you rest, which is why breaks are scientifically good for your function and your positive thinking.
6. Use positive self-talk
When you can’t create tangible forms of positivity, it’s time to turn to the most powerful person in your life to create it from yourself. Who is that person? Well, it’s you, of course! Saying positive things to yourself can help you increase your ratio a bit, helping you better cope with negative situations you may find yourself in.
But what kind of internal dialogue works best? Not all are the same! Studies suggest that the most effective way to positive internal dialogue is one that refers to yourself in the third person. You will find that many successful people, especially those who have overcome difficulties, use this method.
As it is, when you use “I”, you are more likely to say things like “I can’t do it, I have no idea how this works, I’m so stressed!” But when you use third person language when talking about yourself, you put some separation between the negativity and yourself and you can see yourself as a friend you want to be nice to. Try it and you will see.
Many people get caught up in the idea that they can only be stress-free if they completely eliminate negativity from their lives. They may take negativity as a sign of failure or blame themselves for experiencing it. This is not the case and it should not be your way of thinking, and if anything, it will only stress you more.
The trick is to learn to balance your negative experiences with positive ones. Even small cases of positivity can go a long way! So start putting it into practice today.