Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive

Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive

World renowned researcher Dr. Barbara Fredrickson gives you the lab-tested tools necessary to create a healthier, more vibrant, and flourishing life through a process she calls "the upward spiral." You’ll discover:•What positivity is, and why it needs to be heartfelt to be effective• The ten sometimes surprising forms of positivity• Why positivity i...

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Title:Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive
Author:Barbara L. Fredrickson
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive Reviews

  • Jeff Suwak

    It's very strange that people act so antagonistic towards this book. It's written by an expert in psychology and everything in it is validated by empirical study. Yes, it's packaged as a 'self help' sort of book, but there are zero of those all-too-common, nonsensical 'folk remedies' for your psychological ailings. It's simply taking those methods that have been shown by study to work, and then advising on ways that they may be used to better one's life.

    I am a bit of an afficianado/junkie for s

    It's very strange that people act so antagonistic towards this book. It's written by an expert in psychology and everything in it is validated by empirical study. Yes, it's packaged as a 'self help' sort of book, but there are zero of those all-too-common, nonsensical 'folk remedies' for your psychological ailings. It's simply taking those methods that have been shown by study to work, and then advising on ways that they may be used to better one's life.

    I am a bit of an afficianado/junkie for self-improvement, in particular for the qualified findings of the relatively new positive psychology field of inquiry, and I think this may be the best book that I've read on the subject so far. It's full of methods that are simple to apply daily, while remaining grounded and realistic, and it's been effective for me so far.

    Along with the work of Shawn Achor, I think this is a great book to read for anyone looking who is on the journey of mastering their own state. Definitely worth the read.

  • Kirsti

    My husband scoffed at this book, but I enjoyed it because (1) the author is a scientist, (2) she uses peer-reviewed studies as the basis of her work and fleshes it out with some qualitative and anecdotal evidence around the edges, and (3) she emphasizes that statements like "Be positive" and "Don't worry, be happy" and smiley-face logos are no help at all. In fact, she describes one study in which fake-smiling while angry actually led to heart injuries.

    I would need to read this book again to ge

    My husband scoffed at this book, but I enjoyed it because (1) the author is a scientist, (2) she uses peer-reviewed studies as the basis of her work and fleshes it out with some qualitative and anecdotal evidence around the edges, and (3) she emphasizes that statements like "Be positive" and "Don't worry, be happy" and smiley-face logos are no help at all. In fact, she describes one study in which fake-smiling while angry actually led to heart injuries.

    I would need to read this book again to get the maximum out of it.

    You can take a two-minute positivity test at

  • Cara

    A serious, in-depth book about happiness, which the author calls positivity to distinguish from the superficial fluffy self-help happiness stuff. She defines positivity to include joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love. This book is full of results of scientific studies done by the author and others--everything she says is backed up experimentally.

    The biggest take-away here is that a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative thoughts is the tip

    A serious, in-depth book about happiness, which the author calls positivity to distinguish from the superficial fluffy self-help happiness stuff. She defines positivity to include joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love. This book is full of results of scientific studies done by the author and others--everything she says is backed up experimentally.

    The biggest take-away here is that a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative thoughts is the tipping point for flourishing. Below that, not much happens.

    Positivity spurs renewal; negativity leads to decay. Positivity builds psychological strengths, like optimism, resiliency, openness, acceptance, and purpose; mental habits like mindfulness, awareness, and living in the moment; social connections; and physical health.

    The book gives suggestions for reducing your negativity, including disputing negative thoughts, using healthy distractions to stop ruminating, and becoming more mindful. She makes the point that some negativity is good--if you're in a bad situation and need to do something about it, or even just acknowledge the reality of it, you need negativity. However, gratuitous negativity (excessive, redundant, ugly, unhelpful) should be minimized.

    It also gives suggestions for increasing your positivity. These include finding positive meaning in your situation, making plans and goals, savoring goodness, doing and noticing kindness, following your passions, dreaming and visualizing about your future, connecting with others, and communing with nature.

    The author gives some specific exercises for how to do these things, but they're mostly obvious from the lists above. Overall, an interesting and serious book that taught me a lot. As it happens, I read this right after

    so it was an interesting contrast. They both cover the same topic and make a lot of the same points, but

    (also by a scholar/psychologist) is very cheery and doesn't contain a single footnote, whereas this one is all about the science. Fun stuff either way.

  • Jane

    Barb Fredrickson is a fellow Carl, Class of '86, and clearly head and shoulders above my intellectual level!! Still, when I saw she was receiving an alumni achievement award this year, I became interested in her "broaden and build" theory and noticed she had written a book, "Positivity," which was said to be accessible for all. Does it tell you something about my summer to know it's taken me about 2 months to work my way through this easily read, 230-page book? Barb offers many good (and scienti

    Barb Fredrickson is a fellow Carl, Class of '86, and clearly head and shoulders above my intellectual level!! Still, when I saw she was receiving an alumni achievement award this year, I became interested in her "broaden and build" theory and noticed she had written a book, "Positivity," which was said to be accessible for all. Does it tell you something about my summer to know it's taken me about 2 months to work my way through this easily read, 230-page book? Barb offers many good (and scientifically proven!) tips for growing the positive side of things in our lives. She has researched this topic for 20 years and finds that we can enrich our lives in many ways by trying to "accentuate the positive," even though it's totally not possible to completely "eliminate the negative." If you are looking for a boost--of energy, happiness, joy and general personal growth in your life--this book is a great one to pick up. (I don't recommend the two-month route through it, however.... try to attack it with a little more energy than I did!!!) Great job, Barb!

  • Ryan

    Lately, I've been been into psychology books.

    started things;

    and

    lent it much fuel.

    Lately, I've been been into psychology books.

    started things;

    and

    lent it much fuel.

    is a worthy addition to this list.

    The author spends half the book supporting her thesis by describing the results of various psychology experiments. These experiments are fascinating and often lead to surprising results. For example, one psychology experiment was designed to test if positivity improves people's ability to recognize faces. The experimenters accidentally discovered that positivity actually gets rid of own-race bias in face recognition. Many previous studies have already shown that people are bad at recognizing faces of different races, but the study described here found that positivity gets rid of this.

    There are many other very interesting experiments described in the book. These experiments confirm that heartfelt positivity contributes to better health and longevity as well as increased happiness and flourishing.

    The author spends the other half of the book providing practical suggestions on how the reader can increase the amount of positivity in his or her life. I definitely plan to incorporate some of them into my life. This is really a great evidence-based self-help book.

    Four stars for being influential, relevant, informative and interesting.

  • Hamideh Mohammadi

    Reading about the extensive body of research on the power of positivity in the midst of preparing for Irma, the most catastrophic hurricane ever hitting Florida, was quite an experience. I think most people know how important it is to remain positive, but it is reassuring to have the social science back it up and have a social scientist give you valid data to make inferences yourself. I liked this book, but I give it 3.5 because it didn't have to be this long and sometimes the argument aggregate

    Reading about the extensive body of research on the power of positivity in the midst of preparing for Irma, the most catastrophic hurricane ever hitting Florida, was quite an experience. I think most people know how important it is to remain positive, but it is reassuring to have the social science back it up and have a social scientist give you valid data to make inferences yourself. I liked this book, but I give it 3.5 because it didn't have to be this long and sometimes the argument aggregated personal life and research evidence that it would be difficult to disintegrate the science from background stories.

  • Molly Westerman

    Barbara Fredrickson teaches at UNC-Chapel Hill, where I got my PhD in English; I've been aware of her work in positive psychology for years because a handful of my students took her classes--and they all LOVED them. I recently ran across an interview with Fredrickson and liked her discussion of how imprecise a term "happy" is and how inadequate various measures of it are, so I decided to read her book.

    I probably should have read her scholarly articles instead (and I probably will, ev

    Barbara Fredrickson teaches at UNC-Chapel Hill, where I got my PhD in English; I've been aware of her work in positive psychology for years because a handful of my students took her classes--and they all LOVED them. I recently ran across an interview with Fredrickson and liked her discussion of how imprecise a term "happy" is and how inadequate various measures of it are, so I decided to read her book.

    I probably should have read her scholarly articles instead (and I probably will, eventually). I totally agree with her message and think her research is extremely valuable, but the book itself tries so hard to reach a nonspecialist audience that it sometimes seemed to be written for not-very-bright apes. I found its vagueness about methodology frustrating during the first half, which mainly reports on a whole bunch of studies: it does have footnotes, thank heavens, but I was bothered by the fact that I found them much more interesting and compelling than the main text. I also may poke my eyes out the next time I read the phrase "quite literally"--I'm touchy about misuses of the word "literally," but even had it been applied absolutely accurately, there is a limit to how often you can use a word without appearing to have a tic of some kind.

    If you are already committed to meditation/mindfulness, and especially if you're familiar with lovingkindness meditation, and/or if you've read books along the lines of Jon Kabat-Zinn's

    , I doubt you'll be especially surprised by the findings or strategies this book presents.

  • Carmen Neacsu

    This book is mainly about its author. You can read between the lines what an extraordinary psychologist she is and what a wonderful life she has. Her pretentiously poetic style of writing, combined with the scientific style required by her training, resulted in me getting tired (or just bored) of reading. The information contained in the book might be interesting, although I - having read quite a few books of the kind in my life - found almost nothing really new in it.

  • Meredith

    I've been hearing wonderful things about this book from people who loved it, but frankly, I couldn't get past the first few pages without wanting to throw up. This book has a powerful and important message, but it's completely lost in the saccharine, unrealistic delivery.

    Fredrickson starts the book by portraying the same scenario viewed in two different ways: In the first, you sleep through your alarm, wake up too late for your morning workout, check your email and find that one cowo

    I've been hearing wonderful things about this book from people who loved it, but frankly, I couldn't get past the first few pages without wanting to throw up. This book has a powerful and important message, but it's completely lost in the saccharine, unrealistic delivery.

    Fredrickson starts the book by portraying the same scenario viewed in two different ways: In the first, you sleep through your alarm, wake up too late for your morning workout, check your email and find that one coworker has dumped their emergency project on you and another has given you 48 hours to do a complex and time-consuming task. Your preschooler wakes up early and calls for you even though you instructed her to wait until you come into her room, and then your 7-year old can't find his favorite shoes and refuses to leave the house wearing another pair. You're late for work and you snap at everyone.

    In the second scenario, you wake up happy because sleeping through your alarm means that you'll have time to write in your journal about how blessed you are, you put off checking your email and go snuggle with your daughter who has woken up early. Then, when your 7 year-old can't find his shoes, you get "team family" to all hunt for them, and say that you'll reward the person who finds them by letting them be the center of a big group hug! When you find them on top of the refrigerator, everyone shares a great big laugh. When you get to work, you high five your friends.

    The whole first chapter is like this. I grew up in a family that was very close, but not in a gooey syrupy way--more in a completely inappropriate humor sort of way. In fact, we used to get a Christmas card every year from a family that WAS like this, and our "bonding" time was spent sitting around the dining room table, reading their annual "look at how perfect we are" Christmas bragfest letter out-loud, and laughing at how fake and "icky" they sounded.

    If harnessing my positive energy means that I have to start journaling about my ultimate life goals and offering my friends and family more group hugs, I don't think I can do it. I'm going to try this book again, (I got it on audio this time) and see if I can really get the message while filtering out all the "stupid."

    **Update**

    Tried this again as an audio book. 1,000 times worse.

  • Kamal

    While the message of this book is timely, i.e. that positivity can make a huge difference in the social world and that we should all work toward developing a more positive attitude,the scientific basis for these discoveries seems much more dubious. In fact, the book fits quite definitively into the self-help section and not the popular science section. Don't be fooled by the author's credentials or her constant (methinks she protests too much) appeals to the scientific validity of her discoverie

    While the message of this book is timely, i.e. that positivity can make a huge difference in the social world and that we should all work toward developing a more positive attitude,the scientific basis for these discoveries seems much more dubious. In fact, the book fits quite definitively into the self-help section and not the popular science section. Don't be fooled by the author's credentials or her constant (methinks she protests too much) appeals to the scientific validity of her discoveries. The science of this book is laughable and basically amounts to figuring out the atomic weight of fairy dust or the reproductive cycle of unicorns. I can't recommend this book with a straight face. A tedious read.

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