Need to Be Resilient? What the Top 10 Positive Emotions Can Do for You

Unfortunately, there are many more negative emotions than positive ones. When you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, it can be even difficult to think of much that is positive. However, there is value in being able to move from a negative mindset to a positive one. This is especially true  when you need to be more resilient.

Barbara Fredrickson, a leading scholar in Positive Psychology research and author of the book Positivity (2009), suggests focusing on the top ten positive emotions affecting daily life in order to be more resilient.  While there are other positive emotions, they do not have the impact on your life like the top ten do.

The first step in moving to a more positive mindset is being able to acknowledge you are presently in a negative mindset. It is important to realize if you continue thinking and feeling negatively, you will narrow your focus, limit your options, decrease your energy and feel more hopeless. However, as you begin to switch to positive emotions, you will activate your brain to think more clearly, come up with options, make good choices  and be motivated to take action.

Switching your thoughts and feelings from negative to positive is not easy because it often takes conscious effort. Below, you will find a list of the 10 top positive emotions with the most frequently experienced emotion listed at the beginning. These will be the easiest to think about when you are trying to switch from a negative mindset to a positive one. Towards the end of the list, you will find emotions that are more infrequently experienced.

As you read the following list, be thinking about when the last time was that you experienced that emotion, letting yourself re-experience that time. You may find that there are some emotions you rarely experience. Just move on to the next emotion, focusing on those that are most meaningful to you.

  1. Love – In the right setting, love combines all of the following emotions. This aspect of love is what makes it such a powerful feeling. It can come in surges and change you physiologically be increasing oxytocin and progesterone levels. These increases have been linked with the ability to form lifelong bonds, trust and intimacy. Love makes you more resilient and able to handle stress better.
  2. Joy – It can happen in an instant or build over time. When you feel joyful, you feel safe. There is no anxiety holding you back. You feel a lightness and inner glow which spreads to those around you.
  3. Gratitude – This is a feeling of appreciation about something in your life. It has a way of opening your heart. Often it makes you want to do something good for someone in return. Feelings of gratitude also help you be gracious to others.
  4. Serenity – This feeling is more low-key than joy. It is also similar in that you need to feel safe before you can feel serene. You may find yourself savoring the situation you are in when you are serene. It is as if you are soaking up the experience.
  5. Interest – This emotion is somewhat like curiosity. You are more attentive and open to learning. You feel safe enough to explore options and build your skills. It also enhances motivation and learning.
  6. Hope – This emotion is often felt when you are not feeling safe and things may be uncertain. Hope energizes you to be proactive and work to make your life meaningful. Hope can increase your resilience.
  7. Pride – This emotion is felt when something you do well is valued by society. Pride and humility are a winning combination which can help you persevere on more difficult tasks. Some good self-management skills will prevent you from becoming too prideful.
  8. Amusement – This emotion is usually felt when something unexpected happens. As long as you feel safe, you might even find yourself laughing. Humor and laughter can help you change your perspective. This is useful when you are in situations you cannot control.
  9. Inspiration Human excellence is inspiring. When you experience it, you are drawn in and want to do your best. Unfortunately, sometimes inspiration can make people resentful or envious. It is your choice whether or not you respond to excellence positively or negatively. Hopefully, you will choose to respond positively and be inspired.
  10. Awe – This emotion is felt when you see goodness on such a large scale that you are inspired by its greatness.  It is so hard to absorb that it can make you feel small.  Awe is usually a reaction to something positive, but it can also be a reaction to something horrific.
Action Step: Look for times in your life that you experience these ten positive emotions. Practice feeling them so that you can more easily move from a negative to a positive mindset. It may help to focus on one emotion for a week. Keep a log of times you feel that emotion. Describe the situation and your feelings. Savor the feeling when you experience it. This will enhance your practice time.
Post a comment below about how you use positive emotions.
Until next time,

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