Studying positive emotions
As an Emotion Code practitioner, I’m familiar with negative emotions and the detrimental effect they have on our bodies and mind. Funnily though, I had never looked deeply into the flip side: positive emotions. I had simply taken it for granted that they’re good for our vibration.
During the past month, I did a lot of reading on Positive Psychology. Because my life coaching training requires me to practice using these tools. And also because I’m a practitioner who’s obsessed with hacking the mind so I wanted to get some good ideas.
What I found was illuminating!
Benefits of positive emotions
Physically, positive emotions stimulate cell growth, release dopamine and opioids, and reduces inflammatory stress responses. When we experience positive emotions, all of the following areas respond in ways that promote good health: our heart, nervous system, endocrine system, muscular system and immune system.
Mentally, positive emotions expand our awareness. We become more open minded, more connected with others, and less racially biased (yes!). Positive emotions enable us to take in more information and apply that knowledge more globally. We become more creative and resourceful. More resilient to stress. We energize ourselves and others, and build longer lasting relationships.
So awesome, isn’t it? Makes me want to bask in positive emotions 24/7 so I can stay mentally and physically fit forever! But even from personal experience I know that’s nearly impossible. Why? Why is it hard to feel positive emotions consistently?
The negativity bias
It’s because we have a negativity bias that’s been hardwired into our brains. That bias was there to protect us from danger and harm back when life was about surviving from day to day.
We don’t need to be on that level of high alert anymore, but old habits die hard…. So we need to mindfully experience more positive emotions to balance out the negative ones.
About 15 years ago, two psychologists (Barbara Fredrickson and Marcial Losada) found that we need three positive emotions to counterbalance one negative emotion. Two doesn’t quite cut it and one is dangerously low. But this 3:1 ratio was later disputed by other researchers who said the math wasn’t valid. While the verdict is still out on the existence of a threshold of positivity, the fact that we have a negativity bias still holds true.
Does that mean we’re doomed to living in a state of less than optimum positivity – or worse, perpetual negativity? No. It means we need to exercise the positivity muscle a little more. Just like intuition. We all have it, but we need to use it if we want it to work.
Savor positive moments
How can we practice experiencing more positive emotions, then? I tried to come up with a simple mind hack because… I’m lazy. I don’t want to have to memorize a lot of steps and I want to make shifting my mindset as easy as possible.
So here it is:
When experiencing a positive moment, savor it.
Let compliments and praise sink in. Accept someone’s gratitude wholeheartedly. Smile genuinely when thanking someone. Slow down and appreciate something beautiful, melodius or delicious. Feel the happiness, joy, excitement, humor, sense of accomplishment, contentment, love, etc. when it happens.
This will amplify those everyday positive moments that could easily be brushed aside or even go unnoticed. Because of being busy, preoccupied with other thoughts, or feeling undeserving.
Then the whole cascade of beneficial reactions mentioned earlier will automatically take place.
Benefits of savoring positive moments
Savoring a positive moment or positive emotion even just once a day, every day for a week will make a difference. Imagine what might happen if we did more of that for another week? And another?
We would create an upward spiral that elevates us physically, emotionally and mentally. As we elevate our energy, we’ll also elevate those around us, because energy is contagious!
I notice that I bounce back better from bad days/moments compared to when I didn’t savor my positive moments and emotions. Even writing about it uplifts and expands me! So I’d say yes, the research is indeed correct.
Savor positive moments to recharge
Also yes, this mind hack is basically about mindfulness. I purposely didn’t use the word “mindful” because it’s used so much… plus I wanted to emphasize the “experience fully with all senses” aspect.
Savoring positive moments can be applied in the “Recharge” stage of the CARE (Clarify, Align, Recharge, Elevate) process Eunice and I shared in our webinar last month. To find out more about CARE, please visit here.
I hope you find this helpful as you go forward on your own journey of healing and growth! Please do share with me how it goes. And if you need further help or have other questions, please feel free to get in touch.