Positive Emotions Create an "Upward Spiral" Part II

Positive Emotions Create an "Upward Spiral" Part II

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Two people wake up to a lovely spring day and think about taking a quiet walk in the woods. "Mr. Negative" talks himself out of it by the thoughts about his "not feeling up to it," his crammed schedule and fears regarding snakes or falling in crossing a stream. He spends his day sitting home and watching TV.

"Mr. Positive," too, takes notice of the beautiful day and starts thinking about the value of taking a break from his busy schedule and of experiencing the pleasure of visiting the fauna and flora of the Mother Nature. A thrilling sensation passes through his body as he pictures himself walking on the rocks past a bubbling brook. Mr. Positive does take the walk and finds it so enjoyable that he can't wait to go back to the woods.

How some people manage to be more satisfied with their lives than others? How do these people remain cheerful despite hardships, illnesses and losses? They bounce back from their setbacks quickly. The difference between them and others is that they get up as quickly as they fall while others give up trying altogether.

Just as negative emotions create a vicious cycle, positive emotions create a "virtuous cycle."

Are you one of those people who think that some people are positive and happy because great and wonderful things are happening in their lives? Could it be that great and wonderful things happen to them because they happen to be positive and cheerful?

Derive joy and satisfaction even in the ordinary and lack luster events.

We all get our fair share of disappointments and setbacks. When such things happen, derive consolation from whatever else is going good in your life.

Positive people are resilient. When they experience personal loss, they feel grateful for what they still have. They keep themselves busy with taking the next step rather than dwelling on failures. They have learned the art of distraction. They can distract themselves from their failures and setbacks, and focus on the details of the action they need to take.

When they feel down or discouraged, they "dwell" on their past accomplishments. They think of the potentials rather than the limitations. They ask themselves how it can be done rather than why it can't be done.

As they become more effective and successful, they see positive meaning in the challenges and accept them as part of the "package." Seeing positive meaning in everything, the ordinary, neutral and even negative events, creates a constantly positive emotional state. When you do this, you too can maintain the feeling of happiness most of the time.

Negative emotions are known to increase heart rate, constriction, blood pressure and stress hormones. Positive emotional state can also help us to recover from the after effects of negative emotions.

Under the influence of negative emotions we are likely to limit our options. When we remain under the influence of strong negative emotions, our attention begins to narrow and memory weakens. Furthermore, depression, anxiety and a constant sense of failure produce a "tunnel vision." As a result, we take fewer actions to change our environment.

When you experience joy, you "play" more and push the envelope. You become more active and creative. When you're keenly interested in something, you feel compelled to explore and seek all the relevant information you need. Somehow, you find the physical, mental and emotional energy to do whatever it takes to succeed.

It is an art to be content with what you have and still remain motivated to achieve new things. When you are content, you can mentally and physically relax. As a result, you can sustain a high level of effort for long periods of time. "Live in the moment," savor it and still be able to work on your next project with full concentration.

Generally, people have more choices and options than they realize. Those who become more proactive and take action promptly, become more successful.

Do brainstorming. Brainstorming helps you to enter in a positive state of mind because it encourages you to think freely without any fear of criticism. It shows you that there are other ways of looking at a problem and there are other options and solutions you haven't seen, yet.

You can be a realistic optimist with a full frontal view of reality you're facing. Positive emotions such as hope, confidence and optimism don't develop from a warm fuzzy view of reality but from a 20/20 vision.

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Copyright 2001, Mind Publications 


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