Pathways to Wellness

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What is so good about feeling good?

Barbara Chamberlin photoThe simple answer is lots!  It is good for individuals, teams and communities. Positive emotions like love, joy, gratitude, interest, amusement, hope and silliness are short-lived, but they influence future health, well-being and resiliency. Positive emotions trigger positive thinking and positive actions.

Research has shown that positive emotions open our hearts and minds; negative emotions do just the opposite. Fear and anger shut us down – emotionally and mentally. Positive emotions allow us to take in more information, see more connections and possibilities – positive emotions allow us to see the “big picture”.

It’s easy to see how positive emotions might fuel creativity and problem-solving. By being able to see connections and similarities among people, the conditions for empathy and tolerance are borne. People who experience a healthy dose of positive emotions tend to be more creative, resilient, tolerant, and trusting. 

What is a healthy dose of positivity?  Researcher Barbara Fredrickson found that people flourish when they experience three or more deeply felt positive emotions for every deeply felt negative emotion. Most of us come in at about two positive emotions for every negative emotion – so there’s room, and reason, to improve. 

Positivity (the sum of positive emotions) is not about seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses, or telling yourself to “be positive”. It’s about feeling emotions deeply and authentically. And, it’s not about eliminating negative emotions or experiences. That would be impossible and unhealthy!  It’s about finding the right balance.

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