Individuals who focus their awareness on brief moments of positive emotions have greater resilience than those who simpmlyl pass those moments by.
Barbara Fredrickson’s latest study in the journal Emotion (link below) shows that focusing on micromoments that involve positive emotions (such as joy, interest, curiosity, awe, pride, contentment, relaxation, love, hope and more) leads to greater resiliency. This higher level of resiliency allows such individuals to bounce back from adversity more quickly, with greater energy and more wisdom. It also allows resilient individuals to fight off stress and depression more quickly and efficiently.
The study focused on capturing respondents’ daily recollections of feelings (e.g., ‘Today, how much curiosity did you feel?’) as opposed to more general, longer-term feelings (e.g., ‘Over the past month, how much curiosity did you feel?’). This led to a more accurate picture of moment-to-moment feelings and enabled more accurate measurement of momentary vicissitudes.
Focusing on cultivating more positive emotions does not require eliminating ‘negative’ emotions (e.g., fear, anger, sadness). ‘Negative’ emotions are a necessary and important part of life. They cannot be done away with nor do we want to do away with them. One does not need to adopt a Pollyana-ish attitude of eternal optimism to enjoy the benefits of positive emotions.
Simply by focusing on fleeting, fragile, low level intensity moments of positive emotions, one is rewarded with a boost in resiliency. And in this day and age, who couldn’t use a little more bounciness when faced with life’s ubiquitous challenges?
John Schinnerer, Ph.D.
Guide To Self, Inc.
Cohn, et. al. Happiness Unpacked: Positive Emotionss Increase Life Satisfaction by Building Resilience. Emotion, 2009; 9 (3): 361