These days there is much hype around positive thinking and how this is the key to happiness and satisfaction in life. We are told to keep an upbeat mindset through thick and thin in order to come out tops everywhere and every time. However, recent research has shown that such extreme, and possibly not always obtainable, levels of positivity are not necessary for us to benefit greatly. All it takes is an awareness of the good moments throughout the day and we will build up resilience to the ups and downs of life.
Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D., Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, and the principal investigator of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory was involved in a month-long study where 86 participants were required to submit “emotion reports” on a daily basis. Typically in trials happiness levels are assessed using a person’s recollection of their life experience over prior months. This daily reporting method, however, is much more accurate, as a person finds it easier to recall feelings on a daily basis. Furthermore, researchers can also obtain information on variations in mood.
Results Link A Positive Attitude To Better Coping Skills
It was found that participants who displayed fairly positive outlooks on a regular basis became more capable of handling any difficulties that came their way, even when they were having an unpleasant day. Fredrickson points out that it wasn’t because these participants went overboard and denied themselves any negative experiences or emotions but, it was as a result of their taking note of the positive and uplifting aspects of each day – be it a beautiful picture, or a bird’s twittering etc. It was merely the fact that they cultivated positive emotions.
Fredrickson explains that being positive enables one to be more open. When we are more accepting of our surrounding world and the options that are available to us, we can adopt new means of coping and overcoming life’s problems. Developing positive emotions means that we are less likely to succumb to depression and more likely to grow.
We tend to worry about the future or the past. We stress about what is going to happen and we regret what did happen. The success in focusing on positive emotions and aspects of life is that we have to be present, we have to live in the now. When we do that, we tend to make the most of the moment. That is when we live a happy and fulfilling life.