Our brains are wired to respond to threats and negativity as a way of protecting us from danger.  This means that we pay more attention to negative thoughts and words than we do to positive words and thoughts.

When therapists encourage clients to turn negative worries into positive affirmations, the communication process improves and the patient regains a sense of self-control and confidence.  But there’s a problem; the brain doesn’t respond as rapidly because there is no sense of danger.

3 Positives For Every Negative

To counter-balance our propensity for negativity we must consciously repeat as many positive thoughts, words and feelings as we can.  Barbara Fredrickson, one of the founders of positive psychology discovered that we need to generate at least 3 positives for every negative uttered.

So in relationships, if you say something nasty to another, you need to follow it up with at least 3 positives to neutralise their opinion of you and 5 positives to calm their brain enough to be able to relate to you in a civil manner once more.

Body language and facial expressions also count ie: a sideways glance, a frown, a roll of the eyes.  Thoughts or comments like “I’m so disappointed” or “I’m not good enough’ or “That’s not what I’d hoped for’ bring us down more than we realise.

The Power Of Positive Thoughts

The good news is that your positive thoughts and words don’t even have to be rational, they will still enhance your sense of happiness and wellbeing and life satisfaction.  In fact, positive thoughts and language can help anyone build a better and more optimistic attitude towards life because positive words and feelings ignite the motivational centres of the brain into action and they help us build resilience when we are faced with problems.

Positive Self-Talk

A great thing to teach your kids is to regularly engage in positive self-talk, share fun experiences with others and relive them through photos and stories. Learn to savour every positive experience, the more you think about it the more  the brain remembers, relates and relaxes.

So choose your words wisely and speak them slowly, this will allow you to interrupt the brain’s natural tendency towards negativity.  The mere repetition of words like love, peace and compassion will turn on specific genes that lower both physical and emotional stress.

With positive thoughts, words and feelings guiding your life, you will feel better, live longer and build deeper, happier relationships with others at home and work.

Make A Game Out Of It

Our family make a game of it – every time one of us says something negative, we have to counteract it with 5 positives – it’s harder than you think!  Give it a try with your family and notice the difference.

How do you instill positive thinking into your family? Tell us in the comments below.


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  • How scarey is this! The fact we store negatives more then positives is a worry. I’m not sure how I instilled positivity in my kids. I just tried to encourage them in anything and everything they did


  • I think everyone is different and this might work for some but not everyone. My eldest doesn’t actually like positive reinforcement it frustrates her. If we notice she has done something well or has really been trying at something she has struggled with and we mention it to her she gets annoyed. But maybe it depends on the situation?


  • I also find that reframing a negative into a positive is a useful tool. For example: the frustrated cry of ‘I can’t do it’ becomes ‘I can’t do it yet’


  • It is a great idea to try and think of 5 positives, for every negative. I always feel bad after saying something negative to my DD, especially when I can see she is really hurt by my words.


  • I think this is such a great thing to implement. Its also great when having a discussion with someone to use positive touch i.e. when talking to a loved one about something that needs improvement, give their arm a light stroke or pat their back. Otherwise, the physical distance can feel like isolation. Touch shows connection.


  • By talking it out with them and supporting them.


  • Very true, lots of positive reinforcement


  • I like the idea of making sure you say five positives to your family when you say one negative thing. It’s a great way to start.


  • good reminder


  • So true, the impact of a negative word can be devastating and to bring it in balance you need 5 positives at least. We should aim to give descriptive praise at all time, the more you do, the more it becomes a natural habit


  • I really like this idea


  • Positive thinking is so important for everyone.


  • If I feel any negative thoughts, or someone utters something negative, I immediately try to think of a positive to counter it. Sometimes it can be something quite silly, but it makes us all laugh, and that in itself is a positive!


  • positive talking! meditation! believe in God and the good!


  • I think we should focus on not being negative in the first place, and showing compassion.


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