Are You Unbuttoned or Buttoned up? How to Push Your Positivity Mindset Button!

Are you curious?

Do you have fun analyzing what you are doing and why? Are you unbuttoned to nuance, flexible and open-mindeded?

Or are you buttoned up with work and other responsibilities, making you feel life is too darned much? And a tad fearful you might not be as prepared for life as you should be? That possible danger lurks. That you need to get your ducks lined up for negative events that might happen…just in case?

No matter what your mindset, it’s always enjoyable to orchestrate unbuttoned ease into the perhaps uncharted lands in your mind. It’s good for your well-being and engenders happiness and meaning, too.



Here’s a powerful question to get you started:

When I say the word, “button”, what comes to mind? A phrase? A memory? Or maybe you need to sew on a popped off button. And of course it inopportunely popped off as you were stepping out the door.

If you are in a time crunch, a little button commands great power and ignites a huge demand characteristic, “Do I sew it back on now or change my clothes?” Decision-making requires time and mental energy. How annoying, this unwelcome stress.

I had never really thought about ONE button. Have you? How interesting to take a pause and see what bubbles up for you.

Ok, you know the negative impact of one little button. But how might one small button help you to upward spiral your power of positivity? Aha! A decorative button or set of colorful lovely-shaped buttons makes a sweater, shirt or dress sparkle with interest and fun. Again, buttons have positive emotion forte. It all depends which way you look at it. And your Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence strength sparkles, too.



Are you wondering how my curious button musing began?

My lovely husband, Ken, popped a button off the shirt he wanted to wear. Kind soul, he knows how to sew on buttons, but he had no idea where newly organized me (OK, I am trying and slowly getting there!) had moved the sewing basket. I offered to sew it on for him and went to find white thread. Realizing I had a huge mess of entangled thread (now there is a life metaphor!) I began to sort out all the colors and put them in zip-lock bags. I do love to organize. Also, I am grateful (very powerful strength, gratitude) for a husband who can look a fallen button in the face, thread a needle and accomplish a meaningful goal. Who knew a button could wield such meaningful prowess?

Like a treasure hunter looking for Spanish pieces of eight, I finally dove into the basket. Voila, there was a spool of white thread. Proud of my bounty, I handed it to Ken. He sewed while I categorized the threads and then took on the needles. Short work, it was enjoyable. I love color and my Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence strength was happily in high gear flow.

Then I joyfully remembered a lovely memory that had been resting in the recesses of my brain. My Mom Mom (translation, “grandmother” if you are not from Delaware!) had a button tin. An old re-purposed butter cookie tin. When I spent my summers on my grandparents’ farm as a kid, Mom Mom let me play with her buttons for hours Those lovely buttons provided me with enjoyable organizational creativity. I caught myself smiling just now as I remembered those buttons scattered on the floor. I counted them. Sorted them by size and color. I made people out of them, cars, dolls, and other fun objects. They were the early Legos of my mind. Great sharing with my Mom Mom, too. Resourcefulness in full bloom. I loved every minute of my positive reminiscing. As I mused back to those lazy days of summer., I became aware I felt every positive emotion.

Back to my sewing basket discoveries. While scavenging, I found a plastic bag filled with my many-years collections of saved button, “Just in case I need them.” Mom Mom would be proud! Another positive emotion.

Do you save buttons?

Years ago and sometimes today, a nice new garment greets you with a button of two attached to a paper card. An interesting legacy Mom Mom, my Mom, and I shared. We always saved our buttons. Strong emotional connections buttoned up in a basket. All of PERMA in action, Positive Emotions, Engagement, Positive Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment. Yes, I had my finger on the PERMA button early on. Lucky me.

Ken’s button loss reminds me of positive psychology mindset researcher Heidi Halvorson’s “prevention mindset.” In this mindset, you think of what might or could go wrong. You prepare yourself for every negative or wary contingency that could screw up your plans/goals. Then you feel safe to have your ducks lined up…or in this case your buttons ready to be buttoned up. A handy sewing basket filled with “just in case” buttons, thread and needles is like a welcomed security blanket.

Ironic, “button up” can have a readiness for action positive connotation, too,. It depends on your context. If you are upbeat. you think,”Roll up your sleeves, off we go!” Like pressing a magic button to take you where you joyfully want to go, a “promotion mindset” is launched. You see the good things await you. Full steam ahead! You are ready for action. You focus on the gungho. You look for the good awaiting your next journey.

Conversely, in your prevention mindset, you button up your overcoat in case the wind whips and you need to stay warm, “Gotta be careful as I journey along!”

Both mindsets can be positive or negative depending how you use them. (See Halvorson’s book, “Focus,” 2013)). One mindset isn’t better than the other. Both have pro and con aspects. Most of us are in both mindsets at one time or another, but many of us have a primary mindset that serves us most often. Prevention thinkers are usually very careful, and promotion mindset folks are often full steam ahead thinkers. Think of raising kids. We want them to forge ahead in life, but we also want them to be careful. Normal, of course.



How do you see your own mindsets manifesting as you manage your life?

Curious, I mused about why I continue to save buttons. Heck I bet I had not used one in 20 years! Hmmm. I realized my penchant for buttons was both prevention as well as promotion thinking. I saved them to feel ready for action in case I lost one, but I also saved them as a loving tribute to my Mom Mom and Mom’s tradition. Abundance and scarcity. Buttons. Quite a cool reflection on life. Buttons brought me positive emotions as well as a feeling of readiness for whatever the world might induce. Beauty, yes, but also caution and readiness for what might happen. I would not be caught with my buttons missing! And I want to joyfully celebrate their beauty, too. Don’t you love win wins? Prevention and promotion thinking living with appreciated well-being…one little button!

As I opened my big plastic button bag, at first without awareness, I began to sort the buttons by color. It was sheer joy observing and admiring the styles, shapes and textures. Some were graced with sequins, leather, Chinese knots, suede, glass, leopard, cheetah and other animals, embroidery, abstract designs and even tree designs. Great positive reminiscing, too. On the paper tag to which the new garment buttons were attached, I had written the year I bought it as well as the city. My oldest button was 1993 and the dress bought in Las Vegas. How cool to remember that trip, 25 years ago! Positivity trips down Memory Lane. I felt grateful for all the experiences they engendered. And I was cleaning up the button clutter to boot! I did purge a ton of similar buttons Frivolous fun flow and accomplishing, too!

Buttons. I spent an hour sorting them. Why? Savoring them was sheer bliss. A cool blast from the past. Not work, but a promotion mindset I chose. Enjoyment from the past and the present, too, Life is made up of many buttons that reflect your stories. Your life and how you choose to remember it. Powerful when you ponder it. And fun looking forward to the future with a prospective mindset of hope and creativity. Joyful anticipation of the good times ahead.., with all your buttons in ready for action. (Seligman, “Homo Prospectus,” 2016).

After I played with sorting my buttons, I was curious about the history of buttons.

Here’s is a cool enlightening quote:

“Even the simplest things had a glorious pointlessness to them. When buttons came in, about 1650, people couldn’t get enough of them and arrayed them in decorative profusion on the backs and collars and sleeves of coats, where they didn’t actually do anything. One relic of this is the short row of pointless buttons that are still placed on the underside of jacket sleeves near the cuff. These have been purely decorative and have never had a purpose, yet 350 years later on we continue to attach them as if they are the most earnest necessity.” Bill Bryson

Did you know some folks collect rare and now very valuable buttons? A dear friend, Lynne Lenius, recently reminded me there are international button conventions. She got off a plane one day in WI and began a conversation with two French ladies. They were off to Appleton, WI, for a button convention. Who knew? Life is interesting.

May I challenge you for a moment? What do you save and savor? Is it serving you? Is it helping you utilize your positive psychology well-being lifestyle? Jacking up your strengths, positive emotions, mindset awareness, meaning, savoring, visioning, playing, organizing, prospection, and overall life enhancement?

Lastly, here is a button creativity challenge for you:

See what other button phrases you can conjure up. Ask yourself which phrases are promotion and/or prevention mindset triggers. Ponder which buttons elicit positive emotions and strengths. And yes, feel free to take a trip to your button box, tin, or ziplock bag to see what your positive reminiscing mind conjures up.

  1. Button up
  2. Reset button
  3. Magic button
  4. Button pusher
  5. Press the button
  6. Finger on the button (Want more?)
  7. Belly button (having fun yet? :)
  8. Press the ‘Pause” button
  9. Hit the big red button
  10. Censor button
  11. Smile button
  12. Turn the on-off button

Camryn Manheim has a fun quote about buttons: “Parents know how to punch your buttons because, hey, they sewed them on.”

You’ve looked at past and present, what about your future? Positive visioning your future helps you with planning, goal-setting and accomplishing your desires. I know every time I try on a piece of clothing I am going to smile and allow myself to be mindful of the buttons. To be open to their unique splendor. Yes they are a little thing in life…but then again are they? Any object that has the magic to elicit more positive awareness, fun and productive pause…Now that is mighty purposeful positivity pizzazz!



Hugs from an unbuttoned-up and positivity button pusher,