Go straight for the gold


All the goals that we set for ourselves, all the things that we do, are things that we think will enable us to be happy (or to feel something in the palette of positive emotions). If we set the goal to learn a new language it’s because we might want to feel proud, adequate, challenged, capable… If we want to get a better job, promotion or even start our own business, it’s because we hope to feel more satisfied, fulfilled, motivated, or appreciated.

Whatever our goal may be, what we are ultimately seeking are positive feelings - more of them, more often and longer lasting. How about switching it around for a change? Instead of choosing a goal that we believe will make us happy, why not make it our goal to feel more positive emotions?

We generally have a pretty good idea of what makes us happy. We might love to cook, dance, explore new places, have flowers in the house or to learn something new, but do we make time for these things? Often we don’t. Our busy lives lead us to focus on things we “should do” and so we simply don’t make enough time for the things we enjoy doing. Barbara Fredrickson says, “Discover what makes you come alive and give those activities a higher priority... we so rarely give ourselves permission to do these things. That's a mistake.”

So here could be a new goal for you: Do more of what makes you happy.

Barbara Fredrickson’s research suggests a ratio of positive feelings to every negative feeling in order to be happy and to flourish: 3:1 (three positive emotions for every negative one). Choosing to consciously focus on our positivity ratios does not mean getting rid of all ‘negative’ feelings. The ratio is not 3:0. We need the ‘negative’ ones but we can focus on increasing our ‘positive’ emotions. Here is a 2-minute online test if you want to know your positivity ratio today and so we can get started on getting it to 3:1 (if it isn’t already ;-)).

To learn more about emotions, subscribe to the newsletter at the top right of this page.


Fredrickson, B. (2009). Positive Emotions on YouTube.com, retrieved 08:45, Jan 5, 2015 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ds_9Df6dK7c

Fredrickson, B. Positivity Self Test on positivityratio.com, retrieved 08:45, Jan 5, 2015 from http://www.positivityratio.com/single.php

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