How Full Is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath

A favorite read of mine from a few years back that I keep handy is How Full Is Your Bucket by Donald Clifton and Tom Rath. This Gallup book includes a code to take the StrengthsFinder assessment as well as some fantastic statistics and quotes like the following:

“Our encounters are rarely neutral; they are almost always positive or negative…. They accumulate and profoundly affect our lives.

The #1 reason people leave their jobs: They don’t feel appreciated.

Bad bosses could increase the risk of stroke by 33%.

A study found that negative employees can scare off every customer they speak with – for good.

65% of Americans received no recognition in the workplace last year.

9 out of 10 people say they are more productive when they’re around positive people.

Recent studies show that negative emotions can be harmful to your health and might even shorten your life span.

Positive emotions are an essential daily requirement for survival.

We experience approximately 20,000 individual moments every day.

The frequency of small, positive acts is critical… there is a ‘magic ratio’ of 5 to 1 – in terms of positive to negative interactions.

Researcher John Gottman found that marriages are significantly more likely to succeed when the couple’s interactions are near that 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative. When the ratio approaches 1 to 1, marriages ‘cascade to divorce.’

A recent study found that workgroups with positive to negative interaction ratios greater than 3 to 1 are significantly more productive tan teams that do not reach this ratio…. Things can worsen if the ratio goes higher than 13 to 1…. Positivity must be grounded in reality.

Extending longevity: Increasing positive emotions could lengthen life span by 10 years…. So, negative emotions might cut more years off of life expectancy than smoking.

We need to ‘go on a diet consisting of more positive emotions and fewer negative emotions.’

Often, we feel as if we were ‘dealt a bad hand’ and that life is unfair. But we don’t have to allow ourselves to be defined by our hardships. Our responses to difficult events and our emotional state are much more important. Positive reinforcement about our strengths can buffer us against getting overwhelmed with the negative. And understanding what we do best allows us not only to survive, but grow, in the face of adversity.

The Five Strategies for Increasing Positive Emotions:

  • Prevent Bucket Dipping – replace negative comments with positive ones with a goal of at least 5 positive for every 1 negative interactions
  • Shine a Light on What is Right
  • Make Best Friends – Great relationships lead to a significant increase in life satisfaction.
  • Give Unexpectedly – The vast majority of people prefer gifts that are unexpected.
  • Reverse the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.

What we recognize in others helps them shape their identity and their future accomplishments.”

For more on the StrengthsFinder, go here.

  • John Williford

    Recently, I read the book “A Failure of Nerve” by Edwin Friedman and was shocked at the parallels he drew between our own psychological well being and positive life interactions. He was able to show that whether the system being examined is micro-biology, a friendship, marriage, a church, or even an entire society, what mattered in the long run in terms of health was whether or not the individuals in the system were self-differentiated. This is a fancy term that simply means that the person is resilient to negative energies that plague us at every turn.

    Friedman illustrated by telling a story about a conference he once hosted on leadership. He was on a panel of 10 people or so, and the panel got around to discussion art. Friedman made the comment that he was disappointed in recent feminist art pieces, as he claimed they tried to hard to portray a point rather than letting the art flow naturally. Friedman describes the tension in the room as a woman rushed up to the microphone, cutting everyone in line, and began to verbally attack the panel. The leader of the panel had a “failure of nerve” and decided to allow the woman to control the rest of the meeting, steering the audience into what she deemed important and bringing everyone down to her level. Friedman claims that this will induce stress in those that know they have psychologically given ground, and that stress leads to a host of maladies which are seen and unseen.

    So in conclusion, I track with the above notions that positivity and negativity effect our lives to a great degree. Often I think we take the “vibes” for granted and simply deal with medical issues when they surface. Instead, I think a better approach is to focus on the positives, steeling yourself for when the negatives do come your way. I suppose the end goal would be to even consider all negatives in a positive light- and this would jive with the notion that positive thoughts are essential to survival. If we wake up with no positive thoughts about anything we know in life..then why live?

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