Thursday, 28 June 2018

The science of Positivity by Loretta Graziano Breuning , Ph.D.


The science of Positivity is a book (2017 edition ;224 pages; Adams Media)  which tells us about how negative thought patterns are formed  and how we can rewire ourselves  and  replace our negative thought habits with positive ones. 
             Dr. Breuning is a Neuro Chemical expert   and explains  through examples , stories , analogies  how brain chemicals  ( neurotransmitters) Dopamine, Serotonin , Oxytocin , Endorphin  and Cortisol  play a major role in our thought habits. Our neural pathways were paved by our early neuro chemical ups and downs. Our negativity and cynicism  are habits formed in an early stage of our life to  cope up with  chance events related to survival threats, breaches of trust , being dominated  socially by bullies or, being left behind in a competition or race. Negativity is good at  stimulating happy chemicals. Because it feels good , we do’nt want to come out of negativity. The electricity in our brain flows  into these  old pathways or circuits  whenever  stressful situation due to survival threats  comes up. As a result , we remain negative or cynic. If we want to have positivity in life , we have to build new  neural pathways or circuits. The book tries to answer how it can be done .
  Why should we have positivity?  As  the author explains:” Cynicism  helps relieve a sense of threat  but it comes at a price .it makes you powerless  because you focus on things you cannot control  instead of things you can control.”
   In Chapter 6 of the book  (title: PARE Habit), the author gives a very practical way  to build a positive life , called PARE which means Personal Agency and Realistic Expectations. She says that three times a day , stop and think of something good. Spend one minute each time scanning  for the positive aspects of situation  that are currently on your mind. Do this for six weeks and your brain  will be trained to look for the  good of the world.  She also says that we should maintain a positivity  minutes(journal)  to keep daily the minutes  of this exercise.     Just keep finding and recording three good things a day for six weeks  , and your new expectations will affect your neuro chemistry  and build your new  neural pathways. This metamorphosis or alchemy  from negative  wiring to positive wiring in six weeks sounds too good to be true but Dr. Breuning  insists that  it is true. And I trust her academic and intellectual integrity.
          There are  many interesting  examples of  positivity at work . For example , if your bank makes an error, you get upset but you do’nt notice the bank’s billions of correct transactions .She seems to be advocating a more tolerant view of people at work , rather than a Zero Defect mindset. But she is on weak wicket when  she asks us to do something for climate crisis  with a positive feeling and have no negative feelings .When you are choking  with polluted air , it is difficult to  have only  positive feelings .
            But still,  it is a highly convincing book  about getting from cynicism to positivity. Dr. Breuning’s style is  clear , direct, accessible  and  captivating , and  very enjoyable . There is some inner logic , drive and force  in this book  which makes it different from other books on positivity that I have read. I   strongly recommend you to read this wonderful short book. It has the potential to change your life.