Positive Emotions + Affect
We also know that positive emotion yields all sorts of benefits, physically and psychologically. Experiencing frequent positive emotion is linked to better memory, less stress, less depression and anxiety, and even a healthier heart. Researchers have found an impact in the workplace—employees who experience more positive emotions are more productive and satisfied with their jobs. We see this in sports and hobbies, too—experience positive emotions while you’re doing something, and that yields a certain stick-to-it-ivness.
What we take away from this information is this: we want to figure out how to up our positive emotions quota in life.
We’ve discussed this a few times, but the first step to increasing the amount of positive emotion we experience is to get really good at naming it. Identifying emotion, developing the emotional intelligence to be able to know when and how we’re experiencing an emotion, knowing how it feels in our bodies. The more we’re able to describe something, the better we are at picking up on it in the future.
For example, say you’re experiencing joy. Being able to distinguish joy from, say, contentment or playfulness or freedom gives you more data about that feeling. Then consider how it feels in your body; perhaps it feels a little “buzzy” or warm or the feeling lives in your chest. It doesn’t have to make sense—however you experience an emotion is valid. But the more we’re able to figure out the texture of the emotion, the better equipped we’ll be to cultivate it.
And then, we pinpoint how we can increase the quantity and quality of those positive emotions. Identifying the who, what, where, when, why of them, so we can experience more of that.
Take a look at the emotions wheel and see if there are any emotions that you perhaps had been unable to put a finger on recently. Expanding our toolbox of emotions is a great way to practice emotional intelligence and increase our understanding of positive and negative emotions.