Wow Factor of Positivity

Compelling facts about positivity provide a ‘wow factor.’  

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read time:  about 2.3 minutes

“There’s actually no ‘wow factor’ here.”

The statement came from Tal Ben-Shahar, lead faculty, during  our first 1-week study immersion.  After sitting through 8 hours of daily lecture for three intense days in a row, I found myself daydreaming.  But not enough to miss Tal’s comment.

“What did he just say?” I wondered silently, snapping back to attention.

“What do you mean there’s no ‘wow factor?’  I’m here for the ‘wow factor.’  I’m here to learn the deep secrets of positive transformation and flourishing individuals, organizations, and societies.  Isn’t that why we’re all here?”

On the one hand, I understand why a world-renowned expert in Positive Psychology would take this position.  After all, ‘deep secrets’ don’t really exist in any realm, and Positive Psychology is a scientific discipline.  On the other hand, I find ‘wow factors’ all the time.

For starters, who knew that positive emotions promoted resilience and creativity?  In my two blog posts entitled “When You Need Creative Solutions Fast,” I described how positive emotions are a tool to help us think outside the box, make better decisions, and combat negativity.  Wow – I think that’s a pretty big deal.

There are other compelling facts about positive emotions as well.  Consider the 10 most researched forms of positivity  –  joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love.

In her book Positivity, Barbara Fredrickson says that  specific circumstances and thoughts spark positive emotions, giving us the ability to turn them on when we need them.  For instance, she writes the following about awe:

“…awe happens when you come across goodness on a grand scale.  You literally feel overwhelmed by greatness…Awe makes you stop in your tracks.  You are momentarily transfixed.  Boundaries melt away and you feel part of something larger than yourself…Sometimes we’re awed by nature…Other times we’re awed by humanity.”

During a recent trip to Spain, I was in awe of the massive cathedrals and palaces, dating back to the 1200s – all architectural marvels with a rich history of the geniuses behind their design, building and preservation.  I experienced awe firsthand – feeling overwhelmed by greatness, becoming transfixed by the beauty and grandeur, having a connection with a culture and history different from my own.

IMG_0462To savor these experiences, I look at my vacation photos often and remember how it felt to stand before colossal structures like the one in this photo.  My photo-viewing ritual provides an instant shot of positivity.

Barbara Fredrickson writes about all ten positive emotions, describing the circumstances and thoughts that activate them.  I’m passing along excerpts to you.  Click on this link Ten Forms of Positivity  to take a read through.

These forms of positivity aren’t new, but we don’t always appreciate when they enter our hearts.  See if there’s one that resonates and draws you in for more.  If there is, try cultivating that one emotion just 5 percent more every day.

For instance, try writing down three things every day that you appreciate or feel thankful for to cultivate gratitude.  Or notice what inspires you – a quote, music, or a picture perhaps – and savor it daily to cultivate inspiration.  Even for just a few minutes.

The positive transformation of an idea, our health, even a relationship often starts small, with just a seed of positivity.  So even the busiest person on the planet can find the time to make small changes and begin a positive transformation.  This, I believe, has the biggest ‘wow factor’ of all.

With gratitude for putting happiness first,


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Fredrickson, Barbara (2009).  Positivity:  Top Notch Research Reveals the 3:1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life.  New York:  Three Rivers Press.

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