You know they feel good, but did you know that positive experiences and the positivity they generate are as necessary for your well-being as water, air, and sunlight? They’re actually nutrients that enlarge your mind to allow it to grow and change in order for you to become a healthy, resourceful version of yourself.

Especially in times of stress, actively choosing to create positive moments and the feelings that go with them can be just what you need to get you through. Research has measured the physical benefits of a mental diet rich in positive events. It leads to an increase in positive feelings which creates actual physical changes affecting your heart and immune system.

According to Dr. Barbara Frederickson, author of Love 2.0: Finding Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection, and professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “The way the brain works is just fundamentally different in positive states vs neutral.” This is because a person in a positive state learns more quickly and is more inventive. They have a greater ability to make connections and to adapt to new conditions.

It isn’t just a matter of closing your eyes to the difficulties in your relationships and your life. In fact, it’s more about creating a net of positivity that simply allows you to be more resilient. The true objective is to have, what Dr. Frederickson calls, an ‘eyes open positivity.’ This allows you to manage negative and positive experiences with full knowledge and authenticity.

Positive Emotions Are Adaptive

From an evolutionary perspective, positive emotions would have played an important part in the development of homo sapiens. This is because they broaden people’s mindsets and action urges, whereas negative emotions narrow them. Action urges are the desire and intent to act in a particular way. This creates an adaptive advantage since these broadened mindsets inspire creative thinking and innovative problem-solving.

Furthermore, positivity appears to be a vital element of successful relationships. They would have been instrumental in forming and strengthening community bonds which were essential for human advancement as a species. It’s easy to see in your own life how the people with whom you have a positive connection are the ones you most want to be around. Teams that have resilience have learned to maximize the positivity while navigating any negativity. As a result, they’re more likely to achieve success.

Hack Your Positivity

One of the core concepts of Dr. Frederickson’s work is the idea of ‘broaden and build.’ This is the basis for developing an authentic and sustaining positivity practice. Dr. Frederickson has some very practical hacks to support you in broadening and building your life’s positivity.

  1. Prioritize positivity over happiness. Over-valuing happiness will actually lead to unhappiness.
  2. Assemble a collection of heartfelt images, a Positivity Portfolio, that genuinely awaken positive feelings. Then, take time throughout the day to review these images. Be sure to really allow your feelings to sink in.
  3. Each evening write down the positive things that have happened that day and put them in a jar. After a year, read all of the notes.

To supercharge your memory jar practice, in the beginning, read some or all of your notes every 2 weeks. This will begin to broaden your perspective and build your positivity reserves over time. Try using different colored papers for each month. As the layers of color build, so will your positive association with the memories in the jar.

About Zette

Zette Harbour is an iPEC certified life and leadership coach, and, an award-winning professional storyteller, who helps women clear out what’s not working in order to live the life of their dreams. 

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Photo Credit: Lidya Nada, Unsplash.com