The latest Optus Ad, part of its ongoing campaign entitled, it starts with yes, shows a working-class man, along with the song of that same name by fellow Glaswegian Jimmy Barnes. Watching this man’s powerful transformation from construction worker to violinist is something we all dream of.


Optus has a big marketing budget and can afford to pay advertising experts to help them engage customers.  These advertisers are not just clever, they are knowledgeable. They understand people, how the mind works, and the power of positive words like ‘yes’ to promote ambitious change. 


We all know that the human brain responds immediately when there is a threat to our survival, but it doesn’t react quickly to our positive words and thoughts. Which is why we struggle to get out of a negative spiral or stay positive for long. It doesn’t come naturally; we have to work harder at being positive.


Overcoming this neural bias for negativity, starts with yes. Barbara Fredrickson, one of the founders of Positive Psychology, through much research discovered that we need to generate at least three positive thoughts and feelings for each expression of negativity. If you express fewer than three, personal and business relationships are likely to fail.

This finding correlates with Marcial Losada’s research with corporate teams and John Gottman’s research with married couples.

Fredrickson, Losada, and Gottman realised that if you want your business and your personal relationships to really flourish, you’ll need to generate at least five positive messages for each negative utterance you make. Thoughts or comments like “I’m disappointed” or “that’s not what I had hoped for” count as expressions of negativity, as does a facial frown or a sideways nod of the head.


The crazy thing is that it doesn’t even matter if your positive thoughts are irrational; they’ll still enhance your sense of happiness, well-being, and life satisfaction. In fact, positive thinking and knowing that it starts with yes, can help you to build a better and more optimistic attitude toward life, even during all the difficult challenges we are facing with virus outbreaks, war in Ukraine and recent flooding in Australia. The mainstream media make their money through negative headlines, if you are focusing on that every day and feeling a bit down, change channels on your TV and in your mind.


Positive words and thoughts propel the motivational centres of the brain into action and help us build resilience when we are faced with a problem or disappointment.  According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, one of the world’s leading researchers on happiness, if you want to develop lifelong satisfaction, you should regularly engage in positive thinking about yourself, share your happiest events with others, remember it starts with yes, and savour every positive experience in your life.


Choose your words wisely and speak them slowly. This will allow you to interrupt the brain’s propensity to be negative, and as recent research has shown, the mere repetition of positive words like love, peace, and compassion will turn on specific genes that lower your physical and emotional stress.


You will feel better, live longer, and build deeper and more trusting relationships with others – at home and at work. And as Fredrickson and Losada point out, when you generate a minimum of five positive thoughts to each negative one, you’ll experience the optimum range of functioning and open up new exciting opportunities.


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