New research from the University of Toronto found that creativity is improved when people are in a good mood. Essentially, experiencing positive emotions allows a person to see the world differently, unlocking some potential to interpret it and contribute in a novel way. Unfortunately, some of this change in attention can also lead to increased distractability.

“If you are doing something that requires you be creative or be in a think tank, you want to be in a place with good mood,” said Anderson. “For example, if you are having difficulty solving a problem, a typical reaction is to get angry. But that can actually make it harder to solve the problem. One prescription is to go out and play to get yourself in a good mood, and then come back to the problem.”

I think that is fantastic advice, but may be easier said that done. Our history of approaches to difficult problems can interfere with the ability to bring up positive emotions when they are needed. Hopefully, even simple understanding of this phenomenon can help some people get into a better mindset when it is needed.