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So get that extra cookie and talk with someone you love, and push yourself over the mathematical hump.

“Our discovery of the critical 2.9 positivity ratio,” Fredrickson and Losada wrote, “may represent a breakthrough.” * * * Less than a month into his program at the University of East London, Nick Brown was making breakthroughs of his own.

Knock just one of the good emotions out, however, and you won’t.

When the tipping point is crested, a kind of positive emotional chaos ensues—“that flapping of the butterfly’s wing,” as Fredrickson puts it—resulting in human “flourishing.” When it is not met (or if a limit of 11.6346 positive emotions is exceeded, as there , Fredrickson writes that it is possible to promote positive emotions and decrease negative ones.

The critical positivity ratio, then, represented a stark dividing line—the difference between a bummer of a life and a blissful one.

The move didn’t deliver the change he was expecting, however.

Still operating in a large bureaucracy—the same organization, in fact—Brown was now tasked with promoting staff welfare.

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