Experiencing positive emotion – Feel the good in every day

Research shows that it is the absence of positive emotion that is more problematic for people than the presence of difficult emotions.

How often have you felt each of these emotions in the past week? How many had you felt from the left column (positive emotions) and how many from the right column (difficult emotions)?

Awe Regret
Amazement Guilt
Grateful Embarrassed
Appreciative Self-conscious
Hopeful Hate
Encouraged Suspicion
Inspired Sad
Uplifted Hurt
Interested Scared
Curious Stressed
Love Overwhelmed
Trust Angry
Proud Annoyed
Confident Ashamed
Content Contempt
Calm Disgust
Amused Jealous

For most of us, we’ll have identified some from each column. Ideally, we want lots more from the positive side than the difficult side. So, if you feel that there weren’t quite as many positives as you would like, try this exercise.

  • Pick a couple of the positive emotions that you would like to experience more of.
  • Bring to mind a time when you felt that way – what was happening at that time to foster that emotion? How did it feel? Really think about the experience, taking a minute or two to remember what it was like to feel that way.
  • The act of remembering you’ve hopefully just done is enough in itself to boost positive emotion.
  • Capitalising on this little boost, what can you plan in to your week that fuels more experiences of these positive emotions?
  • Stuck for ideas? Find some suggestions here!

Small but frequent positive emotions are great

Research suggests that it is the frequency rather than the intensity of positive emotions which is most important to our wellbeing. Don’t underestimate the benefits of those small pleasant moments; try to really notice them to maximise their benefits.

For more on the science and importance of positive emotions, check out the work of American Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson. You’ll find several YouTube videos, books, and many academic articles from her.

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