The power of positive emotions

Are you a glass half full or glass half empty kind of person?

Experiencing positive emotions such as gratitude, joy, love, contentment, pride, excitement, awe and inspiration makes you and those around you feel good.

Research shows that positive emotions broaden your perception, which helps you see more in life, respond to situations more flexibly and in new ways, and be more creative.

Positive emotions have also been shown to improve physical health, foster trust and compassion, buffer against depressive symptoms and help people recover from stress. 

Even though life has can be a roller coaster of ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good in any situation. Here are some tips to help boost positive emotions:

1. Start a gratitude journal

At the end of each day, write down three things you are grateful for that happened that day. They can be big or small things. This will help you focus on the positive things in your life and foster a sense of appreciation and thankfulness.

2. Create positive experiences

Try creating your own positive experience by doing something nice for someone else. It could be a family member, a friend or a stranger. It could be something you plan or something you do in the spur of the moment. Volunteering is also a good way to brighten your day as well as someone else’s. 

3. Positively reframe an event

When looking at a situation or event, try reframing it in a positive way, for example, the glass is half full not half empty. Or, if a friend cancels plans with you, instead of feeling upset, think about how you could use the free time to do something nice for yourself. Positive reframing doesn’t change a situation, but it can help generate positive thoughts and emotions.

4. Try a relaxation technique

Relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga and tai chi are a great way to reduce stress and bring positive emotions such as contentment, a sense of balance and peace into your life. They are also energising and good for your physical health.

5. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is about being aware of your thoughts, feelings and body sensations as you experience them. It helps you live in the moment and not caught up mentally in the past or future. It also helps reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.

It’s normal to have slightly changing moods. However, if you experience long periods of sadness or depression, please contact your GP or healthcare professional as you may need medical help.

Support

References

  1. Look for what's good Action for Happiness, US 
  2. Positive emotions and wellbeing Psychology Today, US 
  3. 6 exercises for positive emotions: start your upward spiral today Positive Psychology, US
  4. “Positive reframing” as optimistic thinking Psychology Today, US