Positive emotions such as joy, love, amusement, gratitude and pride are the foundations of a flourishing life. Experiencing positive emotions not only makes us feel good but encourages creativity and social interaction. Positive emotions also broaden our perspective. Think about a time when you last felt inspired – did anything seem possible? Or a time when you felt deep awe – did your personal problems fade away with the realisation of something far greater?
How can we cultivate positive emotions and experience more of them? Boosting both our health and happiness. According to Positive Psychologist Dr. Barbara Fredrickson – who has spent over 20 years studying positive emotions, there are four steps to increasing our positivity ratio.
To be clear, the idea isn’t to avoid negative emotions – we need those in order to grow and flourish too – but instead, to counteract the negativity by boosting our ratio of positive emotions.
The four steps are:
- Allow yourself to go back and re-experience positive emotions on a regular basis. Remembering what different positive emotions feel like allows us to recognise them more easily.
- Act as though you feel the emotion. Pretending to be excited or inspired will actually encourage muscle memory and have a positive emotional effect.
- Put yourself in situations where you’re more likely to feel positive emotions. E.g. In the wilderness, with friends, plan a romantic meal or watch a comedy. Know where and why you feel positive emotions and prioritise time for those activities.
- Be mindful of what you’re already feeling. Often we feel positive emotions, but we’re too busy going about our daily routines and living on autopilot to fully experience them. Tuning into our emotions regularly, allows us to realise our feelings and even magnify them.
You can read more about Dr. Barbara Fredrickson and the Positivity Ratio here.