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Small Bouts of Happiness Build Resiliency

A new study discovers people who live their lives celebrating positive emotions increase their resilience against challenges.

The study, “Happiness Unpacked: Positive Emotions Increase Life Satisfaction by Building Resilience,” appears in the June issue of the bimonthly journal Emotion.

“This study shows that if happiness is something you want out of life, then focusing daily on the small moments and cultivating positive emotions is the way to go,” said Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s College of Arts and Sciences.

“Those small moments let positive emotions blossom, and that helps us become more open. That openness then helps us build resources that can help us rebound better from adversity and stress, ward off depression and continue to grow.”

In the month-long study, 86 participants were asked to submit daily “emotion reports,” rather than answering general questions like, “Over the last few months, how much joy did you feel?”

“Getting those daily reports helped us gather more accurate recollections of feelings and allowed us to capture emotional ups and downs,” said Fredrickson, a leading expert in the field of positive psychology.

Building up a daily diet of positive emotions does not require banishing negative emotions, she said. The study helps show that to be happy, people do not need to adopt a “Pollyanna-ish” approach and deny the upsetting aspects of life.

“The levels of positive emotions that produced good benefits weren’t extreme. Participants with average and stable levels of positive emotions still showed growth in resilience even when their days included negative emotions.”

Fredrickson suggested focusing on the “micro-moments” that can help unlock one positive emotion here or there.

“A lot of times we get so wrapped up in thinking about the future and the past that we are blind to the goodness we are steeped in already, whether it’s the beauty outside the window or the kind things that people are doing for you,” she said.

“The better approach is to be open and flexible, to be appreciative of whatever good you do find in your daily circumstances, rather than focusing on bigger questions, such as ‘Will I be happy if I move to California?’ or ‘Will I be happy if I get married?’”

Source: University of North Carolina

Small Bouts of Happiness Build Resiliency

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Small Bouts of Happiness Build Resiliency. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 16, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2009/07/15/small-bouts-of-happiness-build-resiliency/7122.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 5 Jul 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Jul 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.