Caring for self
Christine Carter says our happiness is generally relative to how we deal with positive emotions and negative ones. A good way to focus on your positive emotions is to get excited about future events. Studies show that positive anticipation can bring us as much or more pleasure than the actual event itself.
Take Action: Plan something fun for next week or even this spring, and then do something to build excitement. For example, if you are going to a sporting event or play with a friend, send your friend an “I’m so excited!” email, or let yourself read a review or article about the team or event.
Positive emotions open our mind
Barbara Fredrickson, in her research, has come to the conclusion that positive emotions open us:” They literally change the boundaries of our minds and our hearts and change our outlook on our environment.”
- People are more creative when they’re experiencing positive emotions; when solving a problem, they come up with more ideas of what they might do next. This enhanced creativity has been directly linked to having a wider awareness.
- People are more likely to be resilient. I have conducted a whole line of research showing that people are able to bounce back more quickly from adversity when they’re experiencing positive emotions.
- Kids’ academic performance improves. Research has shown that kids do better on math tests or other tests if they’re just asked to sit and think of a positive memory before they take the test.
- There are medical benefits. Really neat research shows doctors make better medical decisions when they’re given a bag of candy—a really small way of inducing positive emotions. Keep that in mind the next time you go to your doctor’s office!
- Positive emotions make us more socially connected to others, even across groups. My former students Kareem Johnson and I found that positive emotions allow us to look past racial and cultural differences and see the unique individual behind those traits. They help us see the universal qualities we share with others, not our differences. And other experiments show that if you induce positive emotions, people are more trusting and come to better win-win situations in negotiations.