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The Positivity Code

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

Positivity! A word that keeps echoing on the internet these days, especially with the pandemic slowing the world down and many people feeling unproductive. In simple terms, the word positivity means the frequent experience of pleasant emotions. However, you aren't required to be content all the time. Unpleasant and irksome feelings are inevitable in life.

Being positive is all about being able to offset negative emotions with positive ones. Unfortunately, studies have shown that we are wired with a negative emotional bias. That means we feel negative emotions more intensely than positive emotions, and we are more prone to dwell in negative emotions than positive ones. However, this negativity bias guarantees that we pay attention to and make efforts to reduce hazards to our survival. According to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, a positivity researcher at the University of North Carolina, the ratio of positive to negative emotions should at least be 3:1 for the benefits of positivity to be experienced.

"The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones." ~Rick Hanson.

This negative bias makes having more positive emotions very difficult for some. Positive emotions enhance our performance and can make us more creative and more productive. It makes us able to think clearer and enhances our ability to solve problems with greater accuracy. They can also relieve pain, improve sleep, boost immunity and even help avoid specific physical ailments. On the other hand, the negative bias strips all that away and makes us focus on the wrong things most of the time. These are usually things that discourage us and bring us down.

Therefore, Pioneers Youth interviewed a few beautiful souls who have faced so many problems and hardships, to reveal how they carved their path towards success because they let their positivity shine through all the darkness. Now, these people strive to spread positivity in a society that is in desperate need of it.

Our first interviewee was Sharan Velauthan, an individual with one seemingly simple dream to make the world a better place. Content Marketing Strategist, TEDx Speaker, and Content Creation are just a few of his passions in his extremely lengthy portfolio. When asked how he would introduce himself to another, he said, "I'm just a guy on the internet fighting for social justice and I'm a mental health advocate. Everything else that comes in between is something that you can google and get to know about..."

When Covid-19 first started, it affected Sharan pretty severely. He lost 3 of his 4 jobs that were sustaining his financials, thus making him dependent on his mother. He told us that the worst part about all that was how everything was affecting his mindset. As you can imagine, positivity isn't the first thing that comes to mind when faced with so many hardships. However, he has achieved so much even with Covid slowing down the world. He started a mental health initiative with a friend called Samana. It is a project that focuses on meaningful and lasting ways of working towards an equal Sri Lanka. Cosplay Clean up is another project of his that Sharan describes as "a combination of my love of superheroes and geekdom with sustainability." A project with an undeniably beautiful message.

A message everyone needs to hear!

"We are in dire need of superheroes in real life to save our planet from the dichotomy of crises we face. Much like the heroes we all grew up with, we need ordinary people who are willing to stand up and use their unique abilities to instigate change." - Lauren Sandeman (Co-founder of Cosplay Clean Up)

The next fantastic personality that we interviewed was Dr. Maryam Refai, a clinical psychologist specializing in parental mental health. She is another compassionate soul trying to make a real difference. When asked why she chose parental mental health, she replied by saying that she wants to change the tale of motherhood. She stated, "I chose this area because I want to change the narrative of motherhood... I want to educate women, empower, listen to and support women - girls, mamas to be, new mamas, experienced mamas - because I think women are amazing. And they deserve to be celebrated."

She advises mothers facing negativity on how to handle anxiety and self-doubt. For example, being assertive but still listening to what they have to say. Afterward, she reminds them that the anxiety and self-doubt are not permanent, and that they are doing their best to raise their child, and that it is all that matters. This is something that Maryam herself practices, and she stated that "Being a mother is one of the best and most difficult things I have ever done."

Dr. Maryam said that birth trauma is expected for 1 in 3 women. "Birth trauma could be physical or emotional, and it can happen to anyone." Birth trauma is common in fathers, too, even though they didn't give birth themselves. Thus, her message to the youth, and to parents-to-be, is to know which questions to ask. Asking the right questions can help someone in difficulty and help change the conversations surrounding that topic. She stated that some expectations of motherhood are unrealistic and that those expectations are set so that many women fail.

Sandro Sathyajith, a television Presenter, professional compere, and voice artist, is yet another conscientious individual who we interviewed that is attempting to make a genuine difference. He has a talk show, LIVE WITH SANDRO, where he talks about various topics with many different people. He describes it as "A show that's about who people are at heart and what they personally feel." He has sessions with young idols and has fantastic and insightful conversations with them. He is also a co-host for a show called "Seethala Eethala" on Charana TV, where young speakers present their opinion on different problems and topics regarding the youth in Sri Lanka.

When asked how he stays motivated, he replied that reminding himself that there is no other option helped him stay motivated. Also, thinking of the things he could achieve if he pushes his limits was a great way of staying motivated. He went on to say that an attitude that, "I want to do it and then I need to do it right. So, it's always about pushing my limits, but also taking breaks when you need them," is also monumental for success.

Sandro also shared his method of taking care of himself, which is essential in the bustle of today's world. He said, "You know, if the ship is sinking, you search on what is happening and where. You go there first, fix that and come back. That's like managing a lot of businesses. I guess it's the same way I look at myself. That's how I manage my time. I look at the times for everything. And in terms of mental health, I'd say taking a break is always OK and I do that." Sandro further spoke on how to deal with negativity and hatred. He stated the obvious, but he also acknowledged how difficult it would be in the beginning. He said, "...the point is trying not to listen to them. It's hard at the beginning..." He went on to say that the urge to prove the haters wrong was another powerful motivator he had by his side.

Dhanushka Kodikara, a professional power lifter, coach/trainer, and motivational speaker, is another individual who has accomplished so much and continues to do so despite adversity. Dhanushka is a competitive athlete who has Commonwealth achievements as a power lifter under his name. He was the last person Pioneers Youth had the privilege of interviewing, and his success, despite the many adversities he faced, truly touched us.

His most influential motivator has been his mother since the beginning of his journey. He described her as, "No.1 is my mother. I respect women. The fact that my mother played the role of my father too has brought me here today. She was definitely the backbone, the pillar in my journey." Danushka has faced so many obstacles in his journey, and he isn't afraid to let everyone know about them. He said that he wants the world to know his story because there might be people struggling with similar issues, too, and in need of motivation. To do that, he shared that the darkest times of his life were where he had to live without electricity and sleep without a bed for almost 2 years. That's a lot for a person to endure in this day and age. So he shared an adage his mother used to remind him during those difficult times.

"We are going to make it. Never give up!"

When asked what his message for the souls out there struggling to find life's purpose is, he said, "No matter how amazing someone is, there will be a person to criticize. Be ready to fail. Failure is not your final destination... What's fatal is when you decide to give up after a failure. Never give up." His solution to negativity and hatred is also to ignore them and move on. He went on to say, "Whatever the good that you do, it will come back to you." Finally, he replied to the final question on what kind of future he would like to see for the country, "What I would love to see in Sri Lanka is equity. The youth is the only hope!"

One thing that is common with all the individuals we interviewed was that positivity for them did not just follow the axioms "Grin and bear it or don't worry, be happy." Positivity for them ran deeper. It included a broad spectrum of positive emotions, from appreciation to love, amusement to joy, hope to gratitude, and more. From the appreciation and gratitude that Dhanushka has for his mother, the pleasure Sharan gets from his projects to help society, and Sandro gets from his talk shows to the love that Dr. Maryam has for her child, all of those emotions reflect the positivity they have found in their lives.

Most importantly, the hope they bear about themselves and the rest of the world to do better is what keeps them moving forward!

"Life's battles don't always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later, the man who wins is the man who thinks he can." ~ Vince Lombardi.

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