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Posts Tagged ‘Positive psychology’

Simply put — positive emotions broaden one’s thinking.

Given the opposite environment — one in which negative emotions emerge — this makes perfect sense. What do people express when they are in a funk or depressed? They say they can’t think of anything else; their thought processes narrow. Many people in that situation even say even their vision narrows — the “looking through a narrow tunnel” syndrome.

Now, researchers have confirmed that the opposite occurs when positive emotions exist. They say that people who experience positive emotions “show a style of broad-minded coping in which they step back from the current problems and consider them from multiple angles.”

Obviously, that approach comes in handy during a stressful situation. People in a positive state are more likely to reappraise the situation in a positive light and be more goal-directed. They are also more likely to infuse ordinary events with positive meaning, which in turns help them survive or thrive despite adversity.

As corny as it may sound, Norman Vincent Peale got it right — the power of positive thinking rests in its ability to broaden, not narrow, our thoughts, perceptions and actions. If you want to change your actions, change your emotions first.

Source: Positive emotions broaden the scope of attention and thought-action repertoires. Barbara L. Fredrickson and Christine Branigan. Cognition and Emotion 19 (3), 313-332 (2005)

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Resilient individuals tend to experience positive emotions even during stress.

That was the conclusion reached by researchers Michele M. Tugade and Barbara L. Fredrickson several years ago after studying how and why some people “bounce back” from stressful situations and others don’t.

The researchers looked at stress in both the laboratory setting and in daily life. They discovered that people at both ends of the resilience spectrum (high and low) both experienced frustration when faced with a problem they described. The difference between the two, however, surfaced in their emotions. High-resilient people reported higher levels of a positive mood, even while being frustrated. They also reported feeling more eagerness, excitement, happiness and interest during that same time, especially compared to low-resilient individuals.

The researchers call this effective “emotion regulation” — the ability to keep an even keel when all hell is breaking loose. Thus, they say positive emotions amidst stress can have some real advantages in the coping process.

In other words, even under the most stressful and trying situations — find a way to be positive. You can and will bounce back.

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Positive emotions not only help people today, but lay the groundwork for happiness tomorrow.

Researchers continue to build evidence supporting that common-sense idea. One of the latest — the broaden-and-build theory proposed by Barbara Frederickson at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ms. Frederickson and her colleagues say that unlike negative emotions, which narrow people’s thoughts and actions, positive emotions broaden them. Thus, a person begins to think and act in new and novel ways, which in turn leads to an increase in personal resources. The researchers believe that as individuals bring these new ideas and actions into their daily life, they build an even greater array of physical, intellectual, social and psychological resources. This, in turn, leads to more positive emotions — a continuous upward spiral that contributes to a person’s overall well-being.

How can this knowledge help people? It suggests that to feel happier in the long run — begin feeling positive literally one day at a time. Each day of positive emotion becomes like a deposit in the bank that over time generates enormous psychological wealth.

Source: Positive Emotions Trigger Upward Spirals Toward Positive Well-Being by Barbara L. Frederickson and Thomas Joiner

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