Happiness & the Science of Emotions

Feeling mixed emotions? That may not be such a bad thing. Studies show that having the right mix of positive and negative emotions can actually lead to positive gains such as psychological growth, and an increase in physical health and creativity. Researchers suggest that the “right mix” of emotions to achieve these benefits is three to one; that is, three positives to one negative emotion at any one time. While this type of neurochemical “brew” can spontaneously occur as a byproduct of our unconscious reactions to life’s circumstances, it can also be consciously cultivated by the choices we make related to our emotions.

For instance, noticing when I am happy and, then, purposefully focusing my attention onto the physical manifestations of happiness in my body is one way of building more positivity into my life. In fact, recent studies in neuroscience suggest that the very act of “pausing” and “attending to” body sensations, like warmth around the heart, during a moment of fulfillment may prolong the joyous experience; even focusing on the comforting body sensation for 5 or 10 seconds may be enough to boost positivity and increase the likelihood of reaching a better balance of emotions. If you are interested in putting this information into practice, you are invited to mentally repeat the words investigate and allow the next time you are experiencing a positive emotion and see what happens for you.

Written by Tony Madril

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