Positive Emotions - Positivity - Positive Mindset
Like exercise, maintaining a positive mindset has many benefits and it is something we can improve with practice.
We have a natural bias towards negative emotions and therefore we have to consciously practise a positive mindset.
The human brain is wired to focus on negative emotions, such as fear, anger and disgust (check out Overcoming Negative Emotions), rather than positive emotions.
Therefore, in order to develop a more positive mindset, we may need to make a conscious effort. We can practice focusing on positive aspects of our life on a daily/frequent basis in order to improve the balance between negative and positive thoughts and emotions.
Positive emotions are good for our thinking processes.
According to research [Kahn and Isen (1993)], people experiencing positive emotions show patterns of thought that are
- open to information
People experiencing positive emotion also show an increased preference for variety and accept a broader array of behavioural options.
Resilience includes the ability to maintain a positive outlook about the future, even if the immediate situation is difficult.
Since people who experience positive emotion are able to think more broadly, they are more likely to find positive meaning in an adverse situation and undo the negative emotions they are experiencing.
This creates a positive upward spiral towards emotional well-being; in other words, they build psychological resilience.
Further research by Peterson and Seligman (2004 Values in Action inventory of strengths) has demonstrated a robust positive correlation between humour and life satisfaction as well – so it is definitely good for us to see the funny side in a situation!
So how can we consciously improve our positive emotions?
Exercises around positive mindset focus on writing down positive events from the day or week. The research suggests that re-reading recorded events can bring back the positive feelings associated with those events. Thus spending some time every day to focus on good things that have happened is a valuable exercise.
Positive psychology provides us with lots of ways for practising a positive mindset, such as keeping a diary of positive events and updating it daily.
Many studies have explored the connection between meditation practice, positive emotions and well-being. There is evidence that meditation helps people self-regulate stress and anxiety, improve positive emotion over the long-term, and improve immune-response.