Stop And Check: Where Is Your Positivity Right Now? // With Cate B. Johnson

Author Avatar
Written by Pete Sena,
• 4 min read

Pete Sena: Question, and I don’t want to put you on the spot but I know you’re good at ambiguity, is the other day we were talking about what things were we going to talk about today on this episode,  and one of the things that Katie from my team came up with is this idea of a positivity scan. Can you lead us through the making (I’m not asking for you to do one right now) but if I want to go and do a positivity scan to assess where I’m at, how would I do that? Tell the audience (right behind my head over here)

Cate B. Johnson: A positivity scan, trying to get a read on where you are, it starts with being grounded. A lot of the research around positive psychology: there are habits to happiness. I think there’s seven in Shawn’s book (and we’re gonna practice them tonight).  To me the first step is just breathing, being still, being present. I think it’s really easy to get lost in the moment or lost in the crazy so taking that time to be still (whether that’s to meditate, whether that’s just to be quiet, to not be on a digital device, just anything that gives you that time) that to me is always the first step. Check in with: how does my body feel? What are the thoughts that have been going on in my head? And being able to distance yourself from okay these are my thoughts, the voices, and like this is my body. It’s getting a read there. And to me, that’s always the start. It’s breathing and grounding.

Pete: So I have a quick question. One of the things that I feel maybe people have offered up as an insult, or critique of me (in a way that doesn’t feel like a compliment) is “All right, Pete, it’s really easy for you to be positive, you’re always so high energy, etc. etc.” and one,  it gets insulting (but that’s a whole separate conversation). Do you believe that we’re inherently charged in a particular direction? You know, if we’re getting in to Taos for a second, if we’re neutral, neutrally charged, or positively charged, negatively charged. Do you have any thoughts on that in terms of: are we naturally pulled to a particular polarity? I’ve seen you’re doing a thing or two about energy these days, would love to just kind of geek-out on that for a second.

Cate: So there are a lot of different ways you can look at that, one is this whole thing of are you an extrovert or an introvert? Or like an ambivert? Do you go back and forth? But I also think that the way you present to the world is never a good indicator of whether you’re happy or not. So there’s this great card game called “Connect” and it was created by a fellow at Starting Block, which is a social innovation fellowship I’m a part of and it’s this deck of cards that there are different layers but it’s to use in conversation and they’re kind of conversation starters. And one of them was: “What do people think about you that is not true?” and my answer that really hit me was “I’m happier than I am.”

I present like a lot of energy, a lot of smile, it doesn’t always mean that I feel happy. What’s really important to think about with the “happiness advantage” is it’s not what your Instagram looks like. It’s not what your face looks. It’s not even the words I say, that are coming out of your mouth. It’s what’s happening inside. Because we have all these incredible examples of like Anthony Bourdain or Kate Spade, like people that like you thought were really successful and you thought were really happy, and yet very deeply weren’t. And so what I think is really critical about this is it’s not about your brand, something about your persona, it’s not about how people think about you, it’s all of this stuff inside. That’s where that needs to happen.