Experience Positive Emotions and Pursue your Happiness by Doing So
We are all trying to find a way to experience positive emotions as often as possible.
Why do we need positive emotions?
Many theories focus on defining the various components of happiness, also known as “subjective well-being”, “thriving” or “flourishing”. Seligman’s PERMA model helps us understand these elements and provides guidance on how and what to do to maximize them. This theory advocates that happiness is made up of five building blocks: positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishments. Each of these five pillars contributes to well-being independently and is pursued for its own sake, rather than as a means to an end.
Positive emotions and happiness are closely interrelated.
Numerous studies support the value of positive emotions as well as their fundamental and constructive role in the development and enhancement of a sense of well-being, physical and mental health.
Many studies reveal that they are directly and indirectly linked to better health, fewer illnesses and reduced stress.
What is the connection between positive and negative emotions?
The pursuit of happiness is not always positive. Positive emotions can lead to a negative consequence and vice versa: emotions eliciting unpleasant feelings can also bring benefits.
Research shows that emotions encompass both positivity and negativity to some degree. The different positive and negative emotions are not necessarily opposites of each other: they differ in the degree of bipolarity, and thus in the extent to which they are opposites. The extent to which they are independent or bipolar may change depending on a number of factors (for example, whether their intensity or frequency is assessed). Furthermore, whether we experience them as independent or bipolar varies individually and is also specific to the situation at hand.
What are positive emotions like?
We all differ in the intensity and the duration of our emotional response as well as in how quickly we become emotional and how long it takes us to decline and recover.
Positive emotions promote approaching behaviours and the persistence of actions.
They provide optimal functioning, help us become aware of possibilities beyond our own intellectual and behavioural horizon, and force us to rely on our internal physical, mental, social and psychological resources. In a positive emotional state, thinking is more creative, open and effective. It can lead to an increase in an individual’s resources; this growth is lasting and results in positive change and development.
In terms of time, positive emotions can be related to the present, such as pleasure, enjoyment, serenity, interest, inspiration, flow; to the past, such as gratitude, forgiveness, satisfaction, pride; and to the future, such as optimism, faith, hope or trust.
How can we pursue positive emotions?
Although positive affectivity as a disposition is partly heritable, we can consciously increase the frequency of experiencing positive emotions.
We can say thank you more often to express our gratitude. We can think of three good things that happened to us during the day or what acts of kindness others made us happy with. Enjoying small pleasures and sharing them with others, cultivating relationships and practising forgiveness can all improve our positive emotional state.
Practising love as a positive emotion is possible through acknowledging and celebrating the successes of others, giving personal feedback, exercising compassion and making small attentive gestures towards others.
Our downloadable happiness package is available in the Ok-Key app, so you can start the exercises increasing positive emotions right away.
However, the purpose of these exercises is not to promote excessive positivity as experiencing them is not desirable in all cases and does not serve adaptation in all situations. A positive emotional reaction is not favourable if it is overly intense and does not fit the situation it is responding to, if it is uncontrollable, or if it is too self-focused, making it difficult to connect with others. These exercises rather focus on supporting a healthy and optimal emotional balance.
If you are interested in reading more about self-knowledge and self-development, read our new article about “gratitude exercises”.