As an FBI agent, my career revolved around producing positive intelligence. Since I worked counterespionage, Positive Intelligence was the gold standard because it generated new knowledge that moved a case forward in our investigation.
Positive Intelligence reports to FBI Headquarters focused on the possibilities—agents scampered to find ways to control the investigation by finding information that worked on their behalf. Often, this meant snatching just one word freighted with meaning from a conversation and digging further to uncover the attitude and emotion behind it.
Many of my fellow agents never understood how to develop Positive Intelligence because their focus was reactive rather than proactive. Reactive people are those who look back and linger over what went wrong. Conversely, proactive thinkers seek out information that is actionable, interesting, and relevant.
People who are proactive in their thinking rate high in positive intelligence because they see the potential in the words they see and hear, whereas people who are low in positive intelligence react with degrees of helplessness when confronted with challenges or negative words.
Happiness is not about being oblivious to negative situations in our environment; it’s about developing the mental toughness to find ways to do something about them. A leader with high positive intelligence is someone who is able to move forward and find both meaning and happiness regardless of their circumstances.
Here are six words you will need in your vocabulary to boost positive intelligence:
Positive intelligence leads to action which is followed by results, not just more activity.
Find ways to stay productive in the middle of chaos and you will be able to let go of negative attitudes quicker (click to tweet).
Identifying concrete ways to move forward is essential, even if the options are not the ones you had originally planned. By taking action and creating movement, possibilities will open up even when you are in a difficult situation.
Scientific findings indicate that stress (even at high levels) creates greater mental toughness, deeper relationships, new perspectives, and heightened awareness. The reason is that stress releases growth hormones which rebuild cells, synthesize protein, and enhance immunity.
Unchecked, stress turns into fear. If we allow stress to overwhelm us, it defeats us. As Thich Nhat Hanh said, “People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
Do not look at stress as your enemy and let it rob you of it’s positive power; instead, learn how to manage it so it can work for you.
Begin focusing on the gray area between the extremes. Life simply isn’t black and white. Thinking in extremes is a fast way to misery, because negative thinking tends to view any situation that’s less than perfect as being extremely bad. Since most of life situations are less than perfect, black and white thinking tends to make us focus on the negative. Most of life occurs in the moderate areas between the extremes of bliss and devastation.
Be curious about yourself. Do not be afraid to see, tell, and live your own truth.
Cords that are bound by truth do not unravel as easily as those spun with lies (click to tweet).
Curiosity will help you probe the depths of your soul—do not try to hide from the truth and edit who you are based on the opinion of others or what’s popular. A mindset of curiosity allows you to see the potential of what you discover, and view the possibilities as actionable, interesting, and relevant to your happiness.
Choosing to be positive and grateful for your life and your circumstances will determine how happy you will be for the rest of your life. Positive intelligence is looking for something positive about today. Ultimately, your happiest moments will be those in which you see how wonderful your life is.
Every step you have taken has led you right to where you are, and everything has contributed to your development, so pause and give thanks.
The human mind is powerful, so the way in which we talk to ourselves dictates whether we have high or low positive intelligence. If we want to boost our positive intelligence quotient, we must stop limiting ourselves with negative thinking.
Studies have shown that people with low positive intelligence will use the words threat and stress together, whereas people possessing high positive intelligence scores will use words like opportunity and challenge together.
Challenges are opportunities to tease out our fierceness and passion—not ordinary passions, but those that rise up from the center of who we are. Without challenges, we would be content to settle…for less than our best, and certainly for less than we deserve.
Our mind is either in a defeating role or a supporting one. Happy and successful people are the ones who have learned the value of positive intelligence and how to use mental toughness to boost its effectiveness.
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