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Making the Most of Positive Emotions

I think that most people would agree that emotions are functional. The thing is, how can we get the most out of them? Or even better yet, how can we expand and create more positivity in our lives? Positive emotions function to expand (to broaden and build) our social, physical, and cognitive resources. For example, when we are in a good mood, we become more curious, sociable, creative, and are a little healthier.

Scientific research supports that our immune system works better, our cardiovascular system gets a boost, we become better problem solvers, and we have a tendency to persevere longer when challenged with tough tasks.

Positive emotions can lead to increased self-acceptance, feeling purposeful in life, more mastery of one’s life, receiving more social support from others, and fewer signs of ill health. Some evidence indicates that positive emotions may lead to better coping and improved trust in others, and vice versa.

If people can increase the amount of positive emotions that they experience they may be better capable in finding positive meaning in negative conditions. According to Kate. Hefferon, noted psychologist on positive psychology, “Positive emotions broaden our thought-action repertoires, undo negative emotions and build resilience.”

With this understanding, people would be able to have better control over their emotions as well as an increased ability to solve problems. Broadening one’s thinking patterns allows individuals to get an expansive view of their circumstances, which can aid in creating alternative solutions to the challenges one is faced with.

When we focus on the negative we limit our thoughts and behaviors, serving us to act more decisively when stressed or in danger.

In a life-threatening situation, a narrowed thought–action range of negative emotions encourages quick and decisive action that carries direct and immediate benefit for what worked best to save our human ancestors' lives in threatening situations.

Guess what? Not used as much in modern times (haven’t seen a saber-tooth tiger lately). Although not as practical as in primitive times, today, according to distinguished researcher and writer, Robert Biswas-Diener, “Selecting negative emotions can lead us to narrow in consciously on what is wrong, rather than what is right with ourselves and the world around us.”

Since positive emotions can help people to be more creative this can also benefit one’s ability to communicate more effectively.

How can we use this to work for us?

Positive emotions can increase an individual’s openness and accessibility to successive pleasant and meaningful events, encouraging the person to find positive meaning in their circumstances which can lead to additional positive emotions.

This broadening effect can provide the power to build and draw on personal resources when needed; problem solving, learning, health, maintenance of healthy relationships and ability to establish new ones, resilience, optimism, clearer awareness of identity and goal focus. These areas offer the people increased choices for options and possibilities in continuing to build their resources in an upward spiral.

As an Integrated Wellness Coach I work with clients to foster new habits to broaden and build more positivity into their lives.

About the Author

For over 20 years, John Cane has helped over 100,000 individuals in areas of Self Improvement. John is a Certified Integrated Wellness Coach (Mind, Body, and Spirit), motivational speaker, and writer. John has six certifications in Personal Growth and Development. His Journal Books, Important Things I Remember from My Parents’ are used in schools and as an aid for adults in gaining strength in self-identity in the United States and Europe. John is currently pursuing his Doctoral Degree in Psychology & Interdisciplinary Inquiry at Saybrook University, Oakland, California.

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