Happiness is not only an outcome, but also a source of health and performance.
Happy people enjoy a bounty of beneficial outcomes in life - from better health habits to improved immune function, from more meaningful work to more frequent promotions, from higher goal completion to resiliency in the face of setbacks, and from higher creativity to better social lives. Positive emotions such as joy, contentment, interest, and gratitude tend to enhance our chances of success.
What makes positive emotions so powerful? As the human brain evolved, it became very good at recognizing negative feelings and at reacting to them in a very clear and immediate manner. That’s the fight or flight response we’re all familiar with. It served the purpose of keeping us alive in a world full of predators.
Positive emotions did just the opposite. They served, and still do, the purpose of broadening our cognitive and behavioral capacities so we can recognize and explore a multitude of options. In the process, they help us gradually build social and intellectual resources that promote future growth. That’s the broaden and build response described by psychologist and author Barbara Fredrickson.
On a more physiological level, and darting back to my blog on August 5th, positive emotions are associated with:
As a rule of thumb, we need to experience at least three positive emotions for every negative emotion in order to broaden our behavioral repertoires and build durable resources. As shown by psychologist George Bower many years ago, positive emotions also lead to positive memories, which support positive moods.
Get ready for some great facts and ideas you can use to cultivate happiness...
In the grand scheme of the many goals we set, our moods are yet another facet that should be explored. If finding a sense of purpose, having realistic optimism, feeling grateful, doing random acts of kindness, naming our emotions, and getting outside are all avenues to achieving goals such as better sleep, weight loss, relationship fulfillment, or job satisfaction, why not make an effort?
To learn practical exercises for any of these mood elevators, contact me or read more in Marie-Josee Shaar’s book Smart and Stamina.
What will you put in your positive emotion toolbox?
Learner and sharer of all things healthy, active, esteem building, growth promoting, witty and Hawaiian