Positivity may equal power


Steven Covey and his many books about seven habits that make people highly effective are part of a trend in positive psychology. Think happy thoughts and try to be a better person and life will magically improve. Some critics do not take these books at their word, and even ask for hard data. Fred Luthans, a professor at the University of Nebraska, gave a lecture Thursday afternoon entitled “Evidence-Based Positivity for Effective Leadership and Self-Development,” that follows the trend.

“They’re doing this stuff overseas,” Luthans said. “It’s doing good here, but positive psychology is bigger.”

Being positive has both emotional and physical rewards. Luthans said a business relationship should have about three positive comments to every negative comment, and a personal relationship should have about six positive comments for every negative one. Otherwise the relationship may become less genuine. Luthans said he uses this method on his management classes to get results.

“They’ll do anything for me even, even when they’re typing it, and they don’t mind,” Luthans said. “They want to hear the positivity. There’s a contagion effect and we’re finding proof of that in our research.”

From a physical perspective, positivity can offer the benefit of a longer life. Luthans cited a study 65-year study that asked nuns entering a convent about their take on life. Those who answered positively lived 10 years longer than those who had a negative answer.

“Age is a number, mindset is how old we are,” Luthans said.

Furthermore, Luthans cited the placebo effect, which occurs when ill people take a fake drug and get better. Placebos are about 55 to 60 percent as effective as codeine and aspirin in relieving pain. Dori Stevens, senior in family studies and human services, said she attended the lecture to get extra credit for a class, but she thought the lecture was really applicable to other situations.

“It was very interesting, I really enjoyed listening to it, and I feel like it was a lecture worth my time and I agree with him on positivity,” Stevens said.

Overall, Luthans emphasized that Positiviy is proven to help people lead better lives, but it is not a cure-all.

“These are not magic bullets we are talking about here,” Luthans said. I don’t think we can say we have the answer. It is an answer, and a darn good one.”