I’ve just got back from Australia. Between London, Hong Kong, Sydney, Geelong and 5 days of The Ashes Test Match at the MCG in Melbourne I had some time to observe, read and mull over. I also met the inspirational Dr. Paige Williams, from the Centre of Positive Psychology at the University of Melbourne.
Two themes emerged from the thoughts and conversations, and they are both around making choices.
The first is a choice to be Positive. On 19th December Reuters published an article which got me thinking…. “UK employer’s downbeat on economy, less confident about hiring… data from Recruitment and Employment Federation focus on falling number of people in work, employers expecting to shed jobs…. net balance of companies planning to add permanent staff in the next 12 months fell to +16 percent…. none thought Britain’s economy was likely to improve in 2018.” I wondered if this valuable research and article could have been framed in a different…. a positive way….and how that might have made us think and respond?
Positioning information negatively promotes fear, it's more sensational. But negative thoughts and emotions narrow your mind and focus your thoughts thus limiting options – it’s managing the danger impulse.
- Positive thoughts and emotions opens your mind and broadens your options. It also has the effect of enhancing the ability to build skills and develop resources.
Results of positivity:
- Sensations of happiness & wellbeing
- Drives performance
- Results in an upward spiral and growth
The second is… have we lost control, and do we still have a choice to think independently. Australia is no different to the UK. Everyone around me (in the street, on the beach, in restaurants and watching a 5-day test match at the MCG) seemed to be regularly compelled to refer to their smartphone. At the MCG I watched people in front of me viewing social media and other addictive technologies every couple of minutes throughout the day. What are the psychological effects on people who, research shows, touch, swipe or tap their phone 2,617 times a day – the “attention economy”: an internet shaped around the demands of an advertising economy. The attention economy feeds passivity and ruins independence of thought. It sucks you into the group think.
Some interesting thoughts about the “attention economy”:
- It distorts what we think by privileging what is sensational – appealing to negative emotions.
- Everyone is distracted all the time - continuous partial attention limits the ability to focus.
- The “like” feature – everyone enjoys the short-term boost they get from receiving social affirmation. Meanwhile the social media operators are harvesting valuable data that can be sold to advertisers
- The attention economy technologically manipulates people into habitual use of their products
- 87% percent of people wake up and go to sleep with their smartphone – a new prism for viewing everything.
Can we choose to be in control? We can choose to be positive.
I’m going to do some more research on the “attention economy” and Positive Psychology in the business environment and will let you know more…