Why does negative drag us down more than positive uplifts us?
And why is it so critical for us to have a minimum ratio of 3 to 1 positive versus negative?
If you are above this ratio you are uplifted by a vortex of positivity and if you are below it you are feeling continually dragged down by a vortex of negativity. Thank you Shirzad Chamine for compiling relevant research on this 3 to 1 ratio in your book “Positive Intelligence” and adding your own studies of the PQ vortex for describing this energetic phenomenon.
What has evolution to do with it?
Basically, our brain spirals on the negative as well as on the positive. The reason why our brain boosts the negative and why you need 3 positives to counteract 1 negative is that due to evolution our brain holds on to and amplifies the negative far more than the positive. Being aware and remembering details of dangerous animals was much more important for our ancestors than remembering a beautiful flower.
What can we do to be overall more uplifted than dragged down?
We cannot change our circumstances. What we can do is be aware and consciously shift our perspective and outlook on life. This has a significant impact on our performance and well-being. As a consequence we are more calm, focused and curious and less anxious, hectic and stressed.
Make this a habit:
The minimum of 3/1 ratio should be maintained both inside and outside your mind – in the form of thoughts in your head and also externally keeping a 3/1 ratio of positive to negative interactions in relationships that matter to you. So pay attention to when you have negative thoughts or emotions inside your head. These are moments when your mind feels stress, anxiety, anger, disappointment, stress, blame, guilt, shame, self-doubt, regret and so on. These moments might happen in reaction to yourself, to others or to circumstances. Maybe you are beating yourself up for a recent failure, or you are blaming your partner or colleague for not acting the way you want. Or maybe you feel helpless and angry because of events you cannot influence. When you notice that, counter that by commanding your mind to come up with at least 3 positives. They don’t have to be big or complicated things.
Are you open for a little exercise to train it?
Aim to 3/1 ratio in your mind:
Close your eyes.
Let’s think positive using perspective. Bring to mind something that has been bothering you.
Let’s think at least of a couple of possible gifts. First: to have the situation not bother you as much, what strength do you need to grow. Maybe it’s about being more empathetic towards yourself or the other? So bringing compassion to yourself could be one gift.
Be curious about what you have learnt. How could that help you handle an even bigger challenge. What challenge might that be? Create a learning could be a second gift.
Can you think about a third possible gift? What else is crossing your mind, that you are grateful for? There are often so many gifts here and now, if you really think about it.
… Open your eyes when you are ready.
And you can do the same in your surrounding
Aim for 3/1 ratio in relationships:
It takes 3 positive interactions to neutralize 1 negative interactions.
Think about it when you meet people. Sometime a smile, a positive word, a personal question or even small acknowledgments change a lot!
I hope this article was interesting for you. If you are interested to learn more about mental fitness and how to train it, feel free to contact me:
And if you want to know your own PQ score: do the free assessment: https://key4c.com/en/mental-fitness/#PQSCORE
Dr. Uta Barbara Nachbaur an executive and career coach and trainer, is specialized in leadership, mental fitness, communication, conflict and intercultural navigation.
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