The Magic Ratio

5 to 1According to the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Daniel Kahneman, each day we experience approximately 20,000 moments — a moment being defined as the few seconds it takes our brain to process / record an experience.  We may record the moment as positive, negative or neutral however, we tend to primarily remember the positive or negative moments. How we remember these moments, the perspective we put on them dramatically affects the quality of our days, weeks, years and ultimately our life.

According to a decade of scientific study, the ratio of positive-to-negative interactions / experiences / moments we experience can be used to predict—with remarkable accuracy—everything from workplace performance to divorce. This work, which began with noted psychologist John Gottman’s exploration of positive-to-negative ratios in marriages. Using a 5:1 ratio, which Gottman dubbed ‘the magic ratio,’ he and his colleague predicted whether 700 newlywed couples would stay together or divorce by measuring their positive and negative interactions in one 15-minute conversation between each husband and wife. Ten years later, the follow-up revealed they had predicted divorce with 94 percent accuracy. 

Another example is the research of business teams by academic Emily Heaphy and consultant Marcial Losada, where they found that the factor that made the greatest difference between the most and least successful teams was the ratio of positive comments to negative comments that the participants made to one another. The average ratio for the highest-performing teams was 5.6 (that is, nearly six positive comments for every negative one). The medium-performance teams averaged 1.9 (almost twice as many positive comments than negative ones.) But the average for the low-performing teams, at 0.36 to 1, was almost three negative comments for every positive one.

Let’s bring this back to YOU! What is your internal ratio of positive-to-negative comments? I work with many clients who want to feel more confident, to take more action, to enjoy life more, to create more success. And yet, their own internal ratio of positive-to-negative is slanted heavily on the side of negative. Just note that it’s virtually impossible for you to create what you really desire if you don’t shift that ratio! What’s your commitment to yourself. Do you want to be a high-performing person or a low-performing person? Do you want to be happy, strong, confident or unhappy, weak and doubtful? It’s up to you to take charge and to build the habit!

One of the purposes of the Pat Yourself on the Back App is to give you a simple tool for giving yourself more positive comments and acknowledgements. Whether you utilize the app or not, please make sure to consciously build up your internal 5:1 ratio of positive-to-negative comments to YOURSELF. It will change the quality of your life experience!

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