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What Determines Positivity Levels?

by Beth on February 12th, 2010

When I’m talking to people about all of the amazing benefits of positivity, inevitably someone says “Sounds great, but what about the people who aren’t positive?  I definitely know some people who are more like Eeyore than Tigger.”


It is true that some people are naturally more positive than others; genes account for around 50% of our happiness.  One reason we know that positivity is partially hereditary is from studies of twins.  It turns out that the correlation for happiness in identical twins is around 40% while for non identical twins it is close to zero.

Life circumstances

That our positivity is due in part to our genes is not surprising to most people.  What does tend to surprise people is that life circumstances only account for 10% of our happiness!  This means that things like our health, income, age, and even events like getting a fantastic new job or winning the lottery have a very small lasting impact on our happiness.  Sure, life events can increase or decrease our positivity, but the effect is only temporary.  Why?  Because we adapt very quickly to new circumstances.  Our brains are wired to respond to novelty, so when the novelty wears off, so does the effect.

Thoughts and actions

Then what else determines our happiness?  A whopping 40% of our positivity is due to our thoughts and actions, which are under our control!  So even if you were born more of an Eeyore, you can choose to be a Tigger.  How you think and the activities you pursue influence your positivity.  Some strategies for increasing happiness include having gratitude, optimistic thinking, meditation, goal-setting, helping others, and savoring the moment.

And just as you can use these strategies to increase your own positivity, so too can companies adopt strategies to increase organizational positivity.  A variety of interventions can help to establish a positive climate at work, which will enhance employee engagement and effectiveness.

Your attitude is up to you!  You can choose to be a Tigger or an Eeyore.  But given the benefits of positivity for your health, your relationships, and your performance, why wouldn’t you want to boost your happiness?  And what company wouldn’t be interested in increasing organizational positivity?

From → Mindset

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