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    The Magic Ratio of Positive and Negative Moments
    Copyright © 2004, Patsi Krakoff

    According to the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Daniel Kahneman, 
    each day we experience approximately 20,000 moments. A moment 
    is defined as a few seconds in which our brain records an 
    experience. The quality of our days is determined by how our 
    brains recognize and categorize our moments—either as positive, 
    negative, or just neutral. Rarely do we remember neutral moments.
    There is no question that the memories of our lives are recorded 
    in terms of positive and negative experiences. Now scientists 
    propose that each day our brains—i.e., our thoughts and 
    emotions—keep track of our positive and negative moments, 
    and the resulting score contributes to our overall mood.
    Our emotional tone or mood is defined by the number of positive 
    versus negative moments experienced during the course of a day. 
    This is not really news to those people who study emotional 
    intelligence and how the brain works. Yet it has major 
    implications for how we can improve the quality of our lives. 
    The Magic Ratio
    Over the past decade, scientists have explored the impact of 
    positive-to-negative interaction ratios in our work and personal 
    life. They have found that this ratio can be used to predict—with
    remarkable accuracy—everything from workplace performance to 
    This work 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 
    colleagues predicted whether 700 newlywed couples would stay 
    together or divorce by scoring their positive and negative 
    interactions in one 15-minute conversation between each husband 
    and wife. Ten years later, the follow-up revealed that they had 
    predicted divorce with 94 percent accuracy.
    The Bucket and the Dipper
    In a recent book "How Full is Your Bucket", psychologists 
    Donald O. Clifton and Tom Rath propose a metaphor of looking 
    at positive and negative interactions during the day. Imagine 
    we all have a bucket within us that needs to be filled with 
    positive experiences, such as recognition or praise. When we're 
    negative toward others, we use a dipper to remove from their 
    buckets and diminish their positive outlook. When we treat 
    others in a positive manner, we fill not only their buckets 
    but ours as well.
    Here are 5 strategies from these authors for increasing your 
    magic ratio of positive to negative moments in any given day:
     · Prevent "Bucket Dipping." Increase your own awareness of how 
       often your comments are negative. Work toward a ratio of five 
       positive comments to every one negative comment.
     · Shine a Light on What Is Right. Try focusing on what 
       employees or peers do right rather than where they need 
       improvement, and discover the power of reinforcing good 
     · Make Best Friends. People with best friends at work have 
       better safety records, receive higher customer satisfaction 
       scores, and increase workplace productivity.
     · Give Unexpectedly. A recent poll showed that the vast 
       majority of people prefer gifts that are unexpected.
     · Reverse the Golden Rule. Instead of "Do unto others as you 
       would have them do unto you," you should "Do unto others as 
       they would have you do unto them." Individualization is key 
       when filling others' buckets. 

    Writer's Resource Box:
    Patsi Krakoff, Psy. D., CBC, is a psychologist, executive coach, 
    and writer. She customizes newsletters for life and executive 
    coaches, providing both content and PDF and HTML ezines for busy 
    professionals. Patsi lives and works from Ajijic, Mexico where 
    she plays tennis daily, and enjoys other creative activities 
    with her husband Rob and two Maine Coon cats, Huey and Dewey. 
    Email mailto:Patsi@customizednewsletters.com. 
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