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Dear League Leaders,
Have you ever noticed that when you laugh there comes a chorus of laughter and when you are down most of the time you bring down those around you? My colleague, Dianne Wheatley-Giliotti, sent me an article that confirms this . Has negativity taken over in your League? Dr. Barbara Fredrickson pulls together 20 years of research on positive emotions. "Negative emotions are contagious, but so are positive emotions," Fredrickson says. "Leaders who cultivate positivity have the chance to tip the scale from narrow, negative thinking to foster broad, innovative thinking and resiliency." This may have great importance for the successes of your leadership teams and League.
Positivity isn't just about nixing the negative, according to Fredrickson. Here's the short version of how positivity works, adapted from Fredrickson's book:
Fact 1: Positivity feels good. This may be obvious, but it is an essential point. The sparkle of good feelings makes you want more, creating motivation to change things are aren't working in your League. But the good feeling is just the beginning.
Fact 2: Positivity changes how your mind works. Positivity doesn't just change the contents of your mind, trading bad thoughts for good ones; it also changes the scope or boundaries of your mind. It widens the span of possibilities that you see. Although this broadened mindscape is temporary, you escape the tightness of negativity and gain elbow room for greater flexibility and seeing the big picture.
Fact 3: Positivity transforms your future. Positivity literally brings out the best in you and your League. It builds resources for the future. However subtle and fleeting, your moments of positivity accumulate and compound over time to build lasting resources for life. You become stronger, wiser, more resilient and more socially integrated.
Fact 4. Positivity puts the brakes on negativity. When hard times threaten to suck you down negativity's downward spiral, positivity applies the brakes and allows you to bounce back. Even in dark times, positivity continues to broaden your mind and build your resources.
Fact 5: Positivity obeys a tipping point. This may be the most stunning and practical fact to emerge from the science of positivity. Effects that are virtually nonexistent at one starting point grow disproportionately large at a different starting point. Most people experience a 2-to-1 ratio of positivity to negativity. But as you raise your ratio above 3-to-1, a transformation occurs. You feel more alive, creative and resilient.
Fact 6: You can increase your positivity. Through your own efforts, you can raise your positivity ratios and tip yourself from languishing to flourishing. You have more control over your ratio than you realize.
Noticing what's good and positive about your League is more about choice than you probably think. Positive interpretations of your situation — even the most difficult ones — lead to positive emotions and positive outcomes.
What a great way to start the New Year!
My best to you all!
Marcia A. Merrins
LWVUS Board of Directors
Trainings and Meetings Chair