Dear Dr. Christi: How Do You Stay So Upbeat?

The latest Dear Dr. Christi, this time answering a reader question about staying upbeat!
Christi Hegstad September 20th, 2022

Dear Dr. Christi,

How do you stay so upbeat all of the time? I love your energy! 

This was a fun reader question to ponder! And also an important one to answer – for a few different reasons.

First, I want to begin by clarifying that I am definitely not upbeat all the time. I experience my share of anger, grief, frustration, sadness, annoyance…in other words, the gamut of human emotions. If you ever see someone who always seems positive or happy or upbeat, you can trust that they experience a range of other feelings, too – you just may not see it.

I will say, however, that I tend to feel my best – and my most natural – when I am positive. It sort of feels like my default state, or at least the one I continually try to veer back to.

That said, this question brought three main points to mind:

1. Core Values.

Positivity is actually one of my core values. Not ‘toxic positivity’ and, again, not the unattainable idea of being happy all the time.

To me, positivity involves believing in – and looking for – options or solutions, searching for meaning, seeking the upside in order to promote growth (another of my core values) or to move forward.

And since positivity is a core value, I feel at my best when it is being honored / lived out, and I struggle when it is squashed. Therefore, like a beach ball that has been pushed under water and naturally tries to return to the surface, that’s how I feel with positivity (and my other core values).

2. “Positivity Ratio.”

I have studied positive psychology for over a decade now, including earning a certification in Positive Psychology Coaching. One of my first and most impactful resources on the topic is Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s outstanding book, Positivity, where she describes her broaden-and-build theory as well as her ‘positivity ratio.’

At its most basic, the ratio suggests three positive emotions for every negative one in order to support our flourishing.

This ratio seems to linger in my mind, and I try to put out and take in much more positivity than negativity. I’m not always successful at this, but knowledge of the ratio helps.

3. Self-Coaching Questions.

Did I become a coach because I ask so many questions, or do I ask so many questions because I am a coach? Probably a bit of both. Here are a few questions I ask myself, particularly in challenging times:

What’s the ideal outcome? What will help me get from here to there?

What’s the lesson here? What might I learn from this?

If my child or best friend struggled with this, what would I say to them?

How am I feeling? How would I like to feel? What’s one action that might help bridge the gap?

What is my next step in this moment?

I typically explore such questions in my journal, while out on a walk, or with my coach or a trusted friend. All tend to support my positivity.

So there’s a bit of my pondering on the question of my upbeat attitude. Thank you for asking!

If you have a question you’d like Dr. Christi to address in a future installment, leave it below or email our office.

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