Today I would like to explore positive emotions by using the analogy of the seasons.
For those of you who have read my previous blogs, you will know my calling to help people to increase the amount of positive emotions they experience. This is because there are so many healthy consequences that result from increasing the amount of positive emotions such as joy, happiness, hope and inspiration. One healthy consequence is that increasing the frequency and intensity of positive emotions we experience, creates a protective, buffering effect for those difficult times that lie ahead of us.
This includes those times when we are relaxed or when we are immersed in a pleasurable experience such as swimming in the sea, having a bbq with friends or watching a beautiful sunset. These are the times when it is easy to cultivate and savour positive emotions.
We can’t all stay on a high forever. Our moods level out and this can be compared to the transition to autumn. Gone are the long sunny days, however, the gentle wonder of the changing seasons is present, providing us with less intense positive emotions.
This is when then things go wrong in our life, or things are spiralling out of control, and we can be flooded with negative emotions such as fear, despair or worry. They can be over powering and bring us to a standstill. These are difficult days to get through.
Here, we are recovering from the hardship of the difficult times we have just experience in a winter of our life. Just like plants that burst from the ground, we are beginning to recover and rise our head above the trauma, the shock or stress we have experienced. We are now strong enough to look around and assess our situation and take stock. This is a time of putting down roots and putting on growth.
So we can see the changing nature of our emotions and if you look back on your life you might find that they follow a similar cycle to the seasons. Winter is inevitable, we will all experience difficult times, it is part of life. However, knowing this will happen and knowing that winters do not last, gives us the agency to prepare ourselves by reflecting on what action we can take to shorten the winter and lessen the impact of negative emotions.
Barbara Fredrickson’s broaden and build theory of positive emotions has shown that positive emotions act as a buffer to negative emotions, reducing their intensity and longevity. Therefore, taking time to deliberately create and experience positive emotions and to harvest (by savouring) these positive emotions helps increase our resilience in the difficult times ahead. So take time to cultivate positive emotions such as joy, inspiration, gratitude and serenity. Draw up a plan of activities you would like to do that you will find enjoyable. They might be small things like finding time to savour a coffee every day. The positive experiences all add up and add to our resilience armour.
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