“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.” ~ Elbert Hubbard

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson has been studying positive emotions long before it was vogue. Her data reveals that negative emotions, like fear, can close down our ability to function, while positive emotions open us up to possibility, and an increased ability to move forward. Dr. Fredrickson prefers the term “Positivity” to “Happiness”, and stresses the importance and possibility of not just being happy, but flourishing. How would you like to flourish?

Dr. Fredrickson came up with a top 10 list of positive emotions, in order of most frequent to least. As you review this list, ask yourself, When did I last fully experience this emotion?

Joy happens in an instant, a perfect moment captured when all is just exactly as it should be.

Gratitude is a moment of realizing someone has gone out of their way for you, or simply feeling overwhelmed with your heart opening, after being moved in some way.

Serenity is like a mellow, relaxed, or sustained version of joy.

Interest is a heightened state that calls your attention to something new that inspires fascination and curiosity.

Unlike other emotions that arise out of comfort and safety, hope springs out of dire circumstances, as a beacon of light.

Ever done something really well that took a little time and effort? Maybe reached a goal you never thought attainable?

Think of amusement as those delightful surprises that make you laugh; those unexpected moments that interrupt your focus and crack you up.

Inspiration is a moment that touches your heart and nearly takes your breath away – or takes in your breath, as the word literally translates.

Awe happens when you come across goodness on a grand scale, and you feel overwhelmed by greatness.

Guess what? The #1 most frequent positive emotion is here at the bottom. Love encompasses all of the above. When we experience love, our bodies are flooded with the “feel good” hormones that reduce stress and even lengthen our lives.

How often are you experiencing these emotions? Regularly, occasionally or hardly any at all?

Here’s a simple exercise. Grab some sticky notes. Write each of these ten positive emotions on a separate sticky note. For the next ten days, peel off one at a time and take that word with you wherever you go as your daily “flourishing mission.” Take in the essence of each word and try to bring it out in others. (Hat tip to Kari Henley at the Women and Family Life Center).

In a world where negativity abounds, why not try an intentional shift and focus on some positive emotions? You may well thank yourself for what it yields.

9 thoughts on “Flourishing

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