6 Ways to Be Happier By Boosting Your Positive Intelligence

September 29th, 2013 by LaRae Quy

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 be happier in spite of those situations. 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 6 ways to be happier by boosting your 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.

© 2013 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.


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Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”

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13 Responses to “6 Ways to Be Happier By Boosting Your Positive Intelligence”

  1. LaRae, I love this quote, “A leader with high positive intelligence is someone who is able to move forward and find both meaning and happiness regardless of their circumstances.” You seem to do this so well, so naturally, so consistently… Was there ever a time in your life that you struggled to do this?

    • LaRae Quy says:

      Thanks for your comment, Chery. I’ve always had a “where there’s a will, there’s a way” attitude. It was honed as an agent seeking and finding positive intelligence for hard cases. No matter how difficult a case looked from a distance, persistence always paid off when looking for positive intelligence. It trained me how to find possibility in even tough situations.

  2. I love this quote, “A leader with high positive intelligence is someone who is able to move forward and find both meaning and happiness regardless of their circumstances.” You clearly do this well!

    …Was there ever a point in your life that you struggled to do this?

  3. Karin Hurt says:

    What a beautiful list. I love the idea of having stress work for you. I do that somedays better than others 😉

    • LaRae Quy says:

      Karin, it really does an intentional effort to look at stress as a positive event in our life, but when we’re under pressure we push ourselves further than we might otherwise do. Without pressure, we might never realize our potential. Remembering that can really help with an attitude adjustment when our day is under stress.

  4. Lolly Daskal says:

    Your six steps are great to follow because it gives us a methodology for cultivating actionable behaviors

    I personally find that an attitude of gratitude is where the wisdom of the positive intelligence lies.

    Great post on positive intelligence LaRae!

    • LaRae Quy says:

      Hi Lolly

      The most important component of mental toughness is gratitude. Once we forget to be grateful, we no longer have the capacity to be positive.

      Thanks so much for stopping by :-

  5. Terri Klass says:

    Terrific post, LaRae about a topic I knew nothing about! Your six words and actions are all such powerful, yet practical ways to empower us to be positive thinkers.I love #4- curiosity and living our own truth. That is such an important way to live our lives and not be afraid to share who we are and what we stand for. It truly helps us to be authentic.

  6. Great post LaRae! I too was unfamiliar with the concept of positive intelligence but it all makes perfect sense! I especially loved how your post equates positive intelligence with ‘positive’ self-talk. A great reminder that our thoughts are connected with our words which brings on certain actions. Use positive words in our every day interactions!

    • LaRae Quy says:

      Cynthia, interestingly enough the FBI places great importance on the generation of Positive Intelligence reports and agents are given stats every time they are submitted. These are then measured when we’re inspected. It really encourages agents to look for the positive leads in their cases!

  7. Alli Polin says:

    LaRae, I was not familiar with the concept of positive intelligence – thanks for shining some light on it! I was trained in a 360 leadership methodology that takes a close look at a leaders reactive vs creative (proactive) thoughts, actions and behaviors. It absolutely supports what you learned out on the job – cultivating positivity is a choice that we can all do better with training, focus and intention.

    Great post, LaRae!

    • LaRae Quy says:

      I agree Alli….there is a lot of similarity between proactive and positive thinkers…both look for ways to keep moving ahead. I always appreciate your observations!

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