The Power of Positivity

I have a friend who loves and studies improv – the art of performing live, without a script! It can be very entertaining.

One of the most important rules for this kind of performance is to accept everything another performer says or does, and then build on it. This boils down to saying “Yes, and…” at every opportunity.

I mention this rule because it is also a powerful tool for increasing productivity and success when you’re working as part of a team in your real work and your life (not pretending in a performance).

Here are some of the reasons an emphasis on positivity has such power:

Positivity Builds Trust

Positive words and deeds form a solid foundation for trust. Think about it: Would you rather rely on a person who criticizes you most of the time, or one who is primarily positive? Which one would you trust more readily with your ideas, suggestions, and information? To which one would you give your best efforts?

Of course, emphasizing positivity does not mean ignoring problems or lying about them. It’s more a matter of seeing problems as opportunities, and mistakes or lack of information as chances to learn. By saying “Yes, and…” you’re saying “I trust you and your ideas.” The natural reaction from other people is to trust you in return.

If you try, you’ll find that pretty much everything you might want to say can be cast in a positive way. This state of mind automatically avoids the problems, including the fear, anger, and uncertainty that negativity nearly always generates.

Positivity Builds Confidence

People tend to be fairly critical of themselves, so when you pile on with your own criticisms and negative remarks you tend to confirm their own worst feelings about themselves. The result: even less self-confidence.

The better alternative is to find a positive frame of mind from which to convey your ideas, opinions, suggestions, or directions. Not: “You messed that up,” but: “here’s a way to do that better.” By saying “Yes, and…” in this way, you’re saying “You’re OK, you’re on the right track, and I’m ready to come with you.”

A positive approach helps a person feel good about themselves and their contributions to the task, project, or goal at hand.

Positivity Builds Motivation  

Trust and confidence go hand-in-hand with motivation. When a person feels good about themselves and the other members of their team, they generally feel highly motivated to contribute their best efforts.

By saying “Yes, and…” to the people you’re involved with, you’re saying “You’re a valuable part of this team,” and “We’re stronger with you than without you.” Messages like these naturally lead to the kind of inspiration and drive that produce hard work and high-level results.

Any shortage of trust or confidence, on the other hand, steadily eats away at a person’s level of motivation and most often leads to weaker results.

Positivity Builds Performance

You can see the benefits piling up: When people feel trust and confidence, and the motivation to do their best, they’re automatically more willing to learn new things, take reasonable chances, and open themselves to possibilities for growth.

The upshot of all this is a tendency to produce better-than-expected results.  

You’ll find the opposite is also true: in an environment filled with negativity, people tend to curl up in a protective, defensive stance. They prefer to stay with the tried-and-true and avoid unnecessary risks. Instead, they look for comfort. Too often, they find it in doing the minimum amount of what they already know how to do.

Don’t be surprised when people exposed to negativity produce results that measure out lower than people who are suffused with the power of positivity.

Positivity Promotes Health

It’s not surprising that people who maintain a positive outlook are mostly happier and healthier than those who don’t. There are solid medical reasons for this, including the power of positivity to reduce chronic stress. People who stay mostly positive generally experience:

  • Fewer illnesses, right down to the common cold,
  • Greater ability to cope with life’s hardships,
  • Healthier blood sugar levels,
  • Less depression and anxiety,
  • Less risk of heart and cardiovascular disease,
  • Lighter body weight, or at least less chance of obesity,
  • Lower blood pressure, and
  • Longer life.

Positivity actually promotes a “virtuous circle” because positivity promotes good health, and good health promotes positivity. As a result, once you get on this positive path, you’ll almost certainly find it easy and beneficial to stay on it.

Positivity is one of the few areas where the idea of “fake it ‘til you make it” actually works. That is, if you put on a happy face and try to stay on the sunny side of the street, after a while your positivity will come more naturally.

This is one of those rare situations where I can say with complete confidence: “Try it. You’ll like it.”

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