powering the positive

Powering the Positive: Fusing Strengths for Flow, Energy and Connection – PS100

Powering the Positive

the positive - literacy graphicThere’s an Appreciative Inquiry Principle that tracks perfectly with this fourth literacy:  the Positive Principle, which says the more positive our frame and our inquiry, the more positive the outcomes.

Paying attention to and magnifying the positive in people, communities, and networks help us flourish. Among the benefits of knowing our strengths include finding more flow and meaning in life and work.  We feel more energized than drained.  Another benefit is to see our relationships improve as we connect with greater ease.

Appreciative Inquiry, positive psychology, and strength-based approaches, come together to  teach that our highest potential is achieved more easily and gracefully when  guided by the following:

(1) believing positive images lead to positive actions;

(2) cultivating well-being and flourishing as natural states; and

(3) creating environments that facilitate the strengthening of existing talents and attributes.

Our Choice

Howard Zinn, historian, activist, and professor in 2004 wrote  in The Nation, in an article called The Optimism of Uncertainty,

“…that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives.   If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.”

Positive Futures

The redirection of attention and investment into what works well and the images we hold of positive futures redress the long-held paradigm of looking backwards— usually at weaknesses and deficits—as the most effective way to solve problems and fix human pain and suffering.  We can look back and find weaknesses and pain, AND we can look back and find our stories of strengths and success and joy.  That frame of what has worked in the past can also solve problems and help address pain and suffering. 

It comes down to what we choose to focus on.  It’s related to what we talked about in a previous episode, Reframing Reality.   We can not only solve problems by focusing on a positive perspective in the short term but also we are more likely to improve the overall health and well-being of ourselves, our families individuals, families, institutions, organizations and our planet in the long term.


Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s groundbreaking research findings on positivity explore how positive emotions change us at the cellular level changing our biochemistry.  Within the term “positivity,” she includes positive emotions and hopeful, optimistic attitudes that change us physically, psychologically and spiritually, helping us to reflect on who we are, how we relate, and what we think and do.

Velcro and Teflon

Regarding the different influences of negative and positive emotions,  in Rick Hanson’s,  Hardwiring Happiness:  The New Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence,  he says:

“To help our ancestors survive, the brain evolved a negativity bias that makes it like Velcro for bad experiences but Teflon for good ones.”

Therefore, we have valid reasons why we need to increase the ratio of positive to negative thoughts and emotions to make up for that bias.  And the ratio os 3:1.

Dailification: Inspiration and Hope

Just as there are emotional downward spirals that negativity can induce, there are also upward spirals of positivity that can elevate our mood and sense of personal efficacy that we can consciously cultivate. 

Seeking out inspiring moments is a habit worth cultivating.  You can build your own repertoire of inspiration and pull them out whenever you feel the need to feel inspired.  Favorite tried and true ways to be inspired include:

  • Being outdoors in nature
  • Learning how others have overcome challenges and sorrows through listening to and sharing their stories
  • Watching people perform at their best

Be open to inspiration, savor those moments, and feel the surge of warm positivity flowing through your body. When inspired, notice how you are touched and how your heart opens.

The Appreciative Voice Literacies Guide

Seven Literacies to living and leading in these times

The 7 Literacies of Appreciative Voice

A summary and infographics of all the literacies, offering a definition, a description and daily practices to amplify your appreciative voice, plus the articles and podcast episodes to explain each.

Making an inventory of your skills, your talents, your strengths. 

  • Recalling a memory of how you overcame difficulties in the past.
  • If you’ve lost your dream, setting some new goals; be bold to imagine a new vision or dream for yourself.

Investing in connecting with the people and resources that inspire you as a source of hope.

When you’re speaking into that microphone of life, remember that positive effect is contagious.  Not only do you feel good, but others also feel good. The affirming voice infuses your choice of words, thoughts, and actions.  The benefits are not only in the moment but last for a lifetime.  

The Continuum

We’ve begun the habit in every episode of inviting our listeners to consider where they see themselves on a continuum for each literacy. 

Think: How good am I at Powering the Positive in the moment?   Then place yourself from 1–10 along the line. We’d love to hear what you’re thinking.

LIteracies continuum



What positive images are you projecting onto the screen of life?

There are thousands of courses in this field today, in higher education and online, including Robyn’s own training site positivechange.training.  She has a course called, Positivity is your PowerYou might like to take a look!



Next Time

We’ll focus on the literacy of  Welcoming Wholeness, the power of invitation and of belonging, the embracing voice.  We’re living in a world where we can’t just push away or shut out certain sectors.  We all belong, and we’re learning to work with that.

Connect with Sallie and Robyn

Sallie on LinkedIn

Robyn on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google +Positivity Strategist 

Books Mentioned in this Episode

[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B001NLKWUI]
Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the Upward Spiral That Will Change Your Life

[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00CCPIIZK]
Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence

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