Positive emotions not only have other wellbeing benefits, but they are also major wellbeing benefits!
Researchers have found that the experience of heartfelt positive emotions—like joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love—can make you more optimistic, more resilient, more open, more accepting, and more driven by purpose (Green et al., 2010). As William James said over 100 years ago, “We don’t laugh because we’re happy; we’re happy because we laugh.”
How? Studies by Professor Barbara Fredrickson from the University of North Carolina have repeatedly demonstrated that positive emotions help you to broaden and build the way your brain responds to opportunities and challenges. For example, her research shows that when you feel positive emotions they:
Expand your field of peripheral vision, allowing you to see and seize new opportunities
Improve your ability to think innovatively by flooding your brain with the feel-good chemicals dopamine and serotonin.
Encourage collaboration by making your brain feel safe, so you think more about “we” and less about “me.”
As positive emotions accrue, they create an upward spiral that builds up your psychological, intellectual, social, and physical resources, leaving you more resilient. In contrast, negative emotions tend to spiral us down towards feeling overwhelmed, helpless, and despairing. Fredrickson’s studies (2019) suggest that these downward spirals can be short-circuited with an injection of heartfelt positivity.
How can we inject more positive emotions into our already busy day?
You can increase heartfelt positivity by (Fredrickson, 2009):
Getting out and exercising
Spending time with good friends
Connecting with nature
Giving yourself permission to play
Practicing acts of kindness; savoring goodness
Using your strengths and
Injecting jolts of joy—like a favorite song—into your day
You could also use Indie, as she has been designed and built to deliver tiny pieces of positivity and support to you when you and your team need it throughout the day.
A few caveats
However, it is worth noting that when it comes to prioritising positivity, it’s important to do the right things. For example, when people indulge in positive fantasies and disconnect from reality, studies have found that over time this predicts depression.
When people excessively value and pursue happiness, it can be associated with heightened feelings of loneliness, fewer positive emotions, and more depression (Catalino, Algoe & Fredrickson, 2014).
It’s also important to understand that there’s a certain low level at which positive emotions are functionally inert. This means that if people are experiencing more negative emotions than positive emotions, the positive emotions never have a chance to seed the kind of growth you might experience. Fredrickson suggests that when it comes to our positivity ratios, the higher the better, but within balance.
Finally, Fredrickson’s studies have also found that there is the possibility of having too much positivity. It’s difficult to be really connected and grounded to life without tapping into and experiencing negative emotions at times. The negative times, make the positive emotions that much sweeter.
Positive emotions can help reduce stress and prevent burnout. Indie has been created to help deliver you and your team a dose of positivity when you most need it. Check it out below to find out how.