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.