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Your Positive Emotion Ratio: Why It Matters & How To Boost It

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When I was 11 years old, I was obsessed with the Super Nintendo video game “Donkey Kong Country.” I was so into it that I ordered an over-sized DK T-shirt off the back of my cereal box that said “Tame The Beast.” After waiting the requisite & agonizingly long 6-8 weeks for it to arrive, I wore it for an entire summer. And since I just found it in, you can be sure it will make an appearance again soon.

Finding this T-shirt made me realize a few things:

  1. I need to go through my closet more often
  2. I still don’t have the patience to wait 6-8 weeks for something I want
  3. I need a video game that caters to my adult interests
     

Being the nerd that I am, it only took a quick Google to find the work of Dr. Jane McGonigal, author of the upcoming book “Superbetter.”

Check out her gamified quiz to determine whether you have enough positivity in your life and how you can increase it.


 
 
  1. Look over the emotional states listed above and note how many from each box you’ve felt in the last 24 hours. If you’ve felt any of these VERY strongly or for more than a fleeting moment, count it twice.
  2. You should now have one number tallying positive emotions (PE) and one number tallying negative emotions (NE).
  3. Divide your PE by your NE to determine your Positive Emotion Ratio. For example, if you checked off 12 for your PE and 6 for your NE, 12/6=2.
  4. Analyze your score:
    • If your score is higher than a 3, Awesome! Keep up the good work and amp up the self-care when you hit a rough patch.
    • If your score is 1-3, Try the activities below and address lifestyle issues.
    • If your score is lower than a 1, Try the activities below, increase social connection, and seek help if needed.
       

According to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, a professor of Psychology at UNC Chapel Hill, your Positive Emotion Ratio is a good gauge of your resilience in times of stress. In other words, the more positive emotions you have on a daily basis, the more likely you are to bounce back when shit hits the fan.

And that brings us to the million dollar question, how do you boost your score? Dr. McGonigal suggests creating a power-up. For those of you who didn’t have a Donkey Kong addiction as a kid, these are the bonus items you collect that make you stronger. Engage in activities that create moments of happiness, strength, courage, and connection.

Do 3 Or More Each Day:
 

  1. Go outside
  2. Engage in physical activity
  3. Call a friend
  4. Watch a funny video
  5. Validate yourself
  6. Sing
  7. Write a letter of gratitude
  8. Close your eyes and think back to a time when you felt happy & strong
  9. Help someone
  10. And as always, seek professional help if needed. 
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