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What Is the State of Your Positive Intelligence?

By Marie Burns March 10, 2023 Managing Money

You have likely heard of IQ (Intelligence Quotient, a test measuring intelligence relative to others) or EQ (Emotional Quotient, a measurement of the ability to identify and manage your emotions and the emotions of others). But have you heard of PQ? It stands for Positive Intelligence Quotient, a measure of the times your mind has positive vs negative thoughts.

Why should you care? It can make all the difference in realizing your potential in life, enjoying more happiness, and in determining how healthy your relationships are. Extensive research has found that we can live a healthier, happier, longer life if 75% or more of our thoughts are positive vs negative.

What’s Your Score?

You can quickly find out (in two minutes or less) where you are currently by taking the free PQ Score assessment at

That assessment is what prompted me to read the book by the same name by Shirzad Chamine, take the 6 week course to learn more, and now to practice the techniques that improve my PQ score (my score increased by 20 points from the beginning to the end of the class) as well as to help others to become aware of its benefits.

Acknowledge and Adapt

My additional ulterior motive for looking further into the power of Positive Intelligence, was to find a way to help women use it as a healthy way to approach money and their personal finances overall. Money is the number one stressor in the United States. Too often it is also a taboo topic which is why women regularly tell me, “I have no one else to talk to about this!”

We have discussed in past blogs the impact our childhood and relationships have had on our money mindset. Now that we have acknowledged that, let’s talk about leveraging those experiences in order to adapt and improve our PQ.

Leverage to Improve Your PQ

Leverage means using something you already have in order to make something else better. We already have our past childhood experiences, for example. We can do nothing to change how that went, good or bad. But we can accept the fact that we were influenced by that time in our life.

I will never forget a very graphic story told by one of my podcast guests about a time when she was eight years old. It was a very negative experience, but she leveraged it to motivate her in a very positive way for the rest of her life.

Brain 101

How can you leverage your past? Or use your PQ score to adapt to a more positive money mindset? The answer lies in remembering how our brain works.

To live through the caveman days long ago, our brain was wired to SURVIVE. So, to save time (and possibly a life) it was capable of a very quick “feel, react, feel, react” response system. Feel fear and run or feel fear and attack (and maybe bring home dinner), for example. No thinking was required.

Today, however, we no longer have the need to survive in that same way. Yet our brain goes through most of our days in that same “feel, react, feel, react” mode. Still no thinking required!

But if we can force our brain to pause, instead of immediately react, we can engage the THRIVE part of our brain where we make conscious decisions with the potential for more positive outcomes.

Forcing a Pause to Carve a New Pathway

Within the pause is where we have an opportunity to practice positive mindset techniques. How can we force a pause?

Positive Intelligence research has found that breathing with a sensory focus can cause enough of a pause to allow you to make a conscious decision to act differently. That starts to carve a new habit pathway in our brain instead of the typical “feel, react, feel, react” engrained pathway.

Just Breathe

So, what does breathing with a sensory focus look like? It’s been found that just three deep breaths can reset the brain (slow that automatic “feel, react” pathway). Then while you are taking those breaths, you distract your mind by focusing on one of your senses. The distraction helps to calm and quiet your mind chatter.

The sensory focus can be the common awareness of cold air going into your nose, warm air going out. Or visually looking at something in front of you to notice the colors, shapes, and contrasts. Or listening to the farthest away or the nearest sound you can hear. Or touching your fingertips together and noticing the sensation as you slide your fingers down and across your palm.

Thrive for Less Worry, More Life

Once your mind and breath has slowed, you can choose to be in the THRIVE part of the brain and act on one of the Positive Intelligence techniques. One technique is to look for the gift/opportunity in a situation. So, my podcast guest, for example, has taken her negative childhood experience as an ongoing opportunity to pause and remind herself of her resolve to be financially independent.

Another example might be what is often a very common experience for some widows whose spouse used to take care of all the finances. When they start to feel anxious about having to act on a money related decision, taking three deep breaths with a sensory focus can help them force a pause.

Then in that pause, a decision can be made to recognize the good intentions that the gift of the deceased spouse was providing. That, in turn, is now also providing the opportunity to become more comfortable learning to be financially independent.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything, it is all about practicing. Practice the pause by breathing with a sensory focus throughout your day. That way you are building up and strengthening that PQ muscle. Then you can quickly and easily shift into that breathing pause at a financially stressful time.

I hope you will give it a try. A Positive Intelligence approach is a great way to enjoy less worry, more life!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you heard of the three abbreviations IQ, EQ, PQ? What do they mean to you? Have you been practicing Positive Intelligence without realizing there was a term for it? What is your pause technique? Do you think you can make use of the sensory focus before making a rash decision? Please share your thoughts below!

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Great article! I loved the explanation about taking the 3 breaths. I’ve heard it numerous times but never explained so well.

Marie Burns

Thank you Hope for that feedback! I find it so helpful personally and during those breaths I am counting in for 5, holding for 5, and then breathing out for 5 which also seems to focus and calm my brain. I am trying to teach it to my grandkids now, wish me luck!

The Author

Marie Burns, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), advocates for women’s financial health. She is an author of a financial checklist book series, speaker, podcast host and partners with clients to offer friendly financial advice in her independent practice Visit her at or

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