Are you feeling like your life is tedious and overwhelming and you really want to lose weight? Happy, happy, joy, joy as Ren and Stimpy would say! Actually, I’m not being sarcastic. Why can’t we look at losing weight as gaining health instead? It’s not like we really can’t find the weight in our thighs, belly and behind. And it’s not like we want to be deprived or suffer from the loss of weight. Why can’t it be thought of as “gaining health”? After all, aren’t improved blood sugars, cholesterol, blood pressure, appearance, relationships, energy, mood and sleep a huge gain????
Barbara Frederickson, a reknowned psychologist, has done extensive research on positive psychology. Positive psychology is a branch of psychology that uses scientific research to study and determine positive human development. Dr Frederickson has discovered that experiencing positive emotions changes cognitive pathways in the brain so that people are able to become more resilient to challenges and feel empowered to accomplish what they could only dream of in the past. Her research supports that a three-to-one ratio of positive to negative thoughts creates physiological changes in the brain. Her website has a test and tools you can access to assess and improve your ratio. Some of her tools include meditation and Day Reconstruction Method which involves self-reflection on the previous days to explore patterns and how time was spent. There is also a tool for analyzing social interactions and the emotional connections felt during interactions.
Why Get To A 3 To 1 Positive Ratio
Emotion drives our behaviors. Imagine if you come home from work in a negative mood feeling like your boss doesn’t understand you, your bills are piling up, your kids don’t appreciate you, your spouse has it easier than you and you still have to take the kids to evening activities, figure out dinner, do laundry, and finish up some stupid work assignment. Now that is the frame of mind that’s going to open up all kinds doors of possibility, right? No, it will probably lead you to open up the door to the stash of chips.
There is an alternative reality. Perhaps your boss does see your side of an issue but he has pressures from his boss that he hasn’t shared. Perhaps your kids do appreciate how you support them and take them to their activities but can’t truly understand how you feel because they are only kids without enough life experiences and are dealing with their own social pressures. Perhaps your spouse is working as hard as you but managing other household responsibilities that you hate doing. Perhaps you haven’t sat down with your spouse to find alternative ways to simplify life. Perhaps if you did more planning and cooking on the weekend in bulk and froze meals for the week it would make weekday dinners easier. Perhaps if you delegated some activities like laundry or meal preparation it would relieve some stress. Perhaps if you looked at how you managed your time at work you might not be bringing work home.
Negative thoughts can muddle thinking, undermine attitudes and drive us to unhealthy behaviors. Imagine if the above scenario happened to someone in a positive frame of mind. That person might come home from work after having a good talk with their boss to clear up some concerns and feel empowered to address the issues at home. He or she would have the energy while driving home to think about dinner plans, perhaps call the kids to enlist their help (which would empower the kids). The chores of the evening could be shared with opportunities to talk to each other and connect. All these actions lead to empowerment and open communication just by shifting perceptions and would most likely not end up with raiding the pantry!
If you are trying to gain room in your clothes and regain your health, start with how your are wording it and then develop that 3 to 1 ratio of positive thoughts. You might find that just changing your thinking might lead to less unhealthy snacking and improved health with no effort at all.