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5 Research-Backed Practices For Feeling More Positive Emotions

Every Friday, we bring you five related things, ideas, facts, or practices that we hope will make your parenting journey a little easier. This week, we’re focusing on all the good feels. They aren’t just nice to have around; they can have huge effects on our family’s health.

Researchers have found that the more positive emotions people report, the lower their risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, colds and respiratory illnesses, and even early death. Positive emotions also help us recover from the ill effects of stress, bad moods, and conflict.

How do positive emotions arise? The research explanation is that positive emotions arise when we become aware of something we think is beneficial to us (and negative emotions arise when we become aware of something we think is bad for us).

As we all know, there are a wide range of different positive emotions. The most well-researched ones are love, joy, gratitude, serenity (contentment), interest (aka flow), hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love. Each arises in different contexts, encourages different thoughts and actions, and gives us different resources. They’re all good, and we benefit in many ways when we have more of them in our lives.  

The good news is that we don’t need to wait around for positive emotions to just pop up. Research has shown we can intentionally generate positive emotions by shifting our attention in specific ways.

Each positive emotion has a different way of being generated. Research shows that the following actions reliably generate different positive emotions and positively affect the body’s nervous system, cardiovascular system, and immune system. But they only work if you stick with them.

Practice #1: Meditation

Many different studies show that meditation practices increase positive emotions. These studies use different lengths and kinds of meditation, but it’s pretty clear that this is a proven way to boost positive emotions in your life.

An important caveat is that intense and extended periods of meditation have been shown to decrease positive emotions and cause various mental and emotional challenges. These problems usually go away after stopping meditation, but it’s good to keep in mind that it’s not all sunshine and roses when it comes to meditation.

Practice #2: Gratitude lists

When researchers have participants write lists or regularly think about things in their lives they’re grateful for, positive emotions increase as do the benefits associated with these emotions.

The important characteristic of these practices is that they’re done every day and time is set aside to really reflect on the things we’re grateful.

Here are three great gratitude exercises for kids, and 10 for adults.

Practice #3: Visualizing your best possible self

Positive emotions naturally arise when we perceive something in our environment that’s beneficial (or potentially beneficial) to us. Visualization practices hack this system by imagining beneficial things happening for us. It’s a way to manufacture optimism and hope.

The best-studied visualization practice includes imagining your best possible self, and writing about your mental imagery of your best possible self.  Here’s a basic step-by-step of the process. For something with a little more detail, check this out.

Practice #4: Supportive social interaction

Positive emotions can be sparked by supportive social interaction, but positive emotions also spark more supportive social interactions. Supportive social interaction occurs in many different ways, but what they all have in common is that they develop a sense of connection. In one study, researchers found that when people talk about something personal and revealing, even to a stranger, that they begin to sync their behaviors and report a greater connection.

Yes Collective Level Up Parent Communication Practices and Authentic Relating materials offer a great start to building more positive social interactions.

Practice #5: Music

Perhaps the easiest and most common way we all generate positive emotions in our lives is through music. That favorite song? The night out dancing? The concerts you used to love going to (but can’t now that you’re a parent)?

Unsurprisingly, there’s a bunch of research that shows that music reliably increases positive emotions, especially when physical movement is involved. Sometimes we get caught up in the hectic, overwhelming rhythm of parenthood. But music is always there for us, just a Spotify playlist away from good vibes. And remember: positive emotions increase even more when you shake your booty.

5 Research-Backed Practices For Feeling More Positive Emotions

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5 Research-Backed Practices For Feeling More Positive Emotions

This week, we’re focusing on all the good feels. They aren’t just nice to have around; they can have huge effects on our family’s health.

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Key takeaways

1

Positive emotions don’t just feel good, they make us and our family healthier

2

We don’t need to just wait for circumstances to change to experience positive emotions

3

We show you five simple, effective ways to experience more positive emotions in your life today

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Every Friday, we bring you five related things, ideas, facts, or practices that we hope will make your parenting journey a little easier. This week, we’re focusing on all the good feels. They aren’t just nice to have around; they can have huge effects on our family’s health.

Researchers have found that the more positive emotions people report, the lower their risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, colds and respiratory illnesses, and even early death. Positive emotions also help us recover from the ill effects of stress, bad moods, and conflict.

How do positive emotions arise? The research explanation is that positive emotions arise when we become aware of something we think is beneficial to us (and negative emotions arise when we become aware of something we think is bad for us).

As we all know, there are a wide range of different positive emotions. The most well-researched ones are love, joy, gratitude, serenity (contentment), interest (aka flow), hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love. Each arises in different contexts, encourages different thoughts and actions, and gives us different resources. They’re all good, and we benefit in many ways when we have more of them in our lives.  

The good news is that we don’t need to wait around for positive emotions to just pop up. Research has shown we can intentionally generate positive emotions by shifting our attention in specific ways.

Each positive emotion has a different way of being generated. Research shows that the following actions reliably generate different positive emotions and positively affect the body’s nervous system, cardiovascular system, and immune system. But they only work if you stick with them.

Practice #1: Meditation

Many different studies show that meditation practices increase positive emotions. These studies use different lengths and kinds of meditation, but it’s pretty clear that this is a proven way to boost positive emotions in your life.

An important caveat is that intense and extended periods of meditation have been shown to decrease positive emotions and cause various mental and emotional challenges. These problems usually go away after stopping meditation, but it’s good to keep in mind that it’s not all sunshine and roses when it comes to meditation.

Practice #2: Gratitude lists

When researchers have participants write lists or regularly think about things in their lives they’re grateful for, positive emotions increase as do the benefits associated with these emotions.

The important characteristic of these practices is that they’re done every day and time is set aside to really reflect on the things we’re grateful.

Here are three great gratitude exercises for kids, and 10 for adults.

Practice #3: Visualizing your best possible self

Positive emotions naturally arise when we perceive something in our environment that’s beneficial (or potentially beneficial) to us. Visualization practices hack this system by imagining beneficial things happening for us. It’s a way to manufacture optimism and hope.

The best-studied visualization practice includes imagining your best possible self, and writing about your mental imagery of your best possible self.  Here’s a basic step-by-step of the process. For something with a little more detail, check this out.

Practice #4: Supportive social interaction

Positive emotions can be sparked by supportive social interaction, but positive emotions also spark more supportive social interactions. Supportive social interaction occurs in many different ways, but what they all have in common is that they develop a sense of connection. In one study, researchers found that when people talk about something personal and revealing, even to a stranger, that they begin to sync their behaviors and report a greater connection.

Yes Collective Level Up Parent Communication Practices and Authentic Relating materials offer a great start to building more positive social interactions.

Practice #5: Music

Perhaps the easiest and most common way we all generate positive emotions in our lives is through music. That favorite song? The night out dancing? The concerts you used to love going to (but can’t now that you’re a parent)?

Unsurprisingly, there’s a bunch of research that shows that music reliably increases positive emotions, especially when physical movement is involved. Sometimes we get caught up in the hectic, overwhelming rhythm of parenthood. But music is always there for us, just a Spotify playlist away from good vibes. And remember: positive emotions increase even more when you shake your booty.

Every Friday, we bring you five related things, ideas, facts, or practices that we hope will make your parenting journey a little easier. This week, we’re focusing on all the good feels. They aren’t just nice to have around; they can have huge effects on our family’s health.

Researchers have found that the more positive emotions people report, the lower their risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, colds and respiratory illnesses, and even early death. Positive emotions also help us recover from the ill effects of stress, bad moods, and conflict.

How do positive emotions arise? The research explanation is that positive emotions arise when we become aware of something we think is beneficial to us (and negative emotions arise when we become aware of something we think is bad for us).

As we all know, there are a wide range of different positive emotions. The most well-researched ones are love, joy, gratitude, serenity (contentment), interest (aka flow), hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love. Each arises in different contexts, encourages different thoughts and actions, and gives us different resources. They’re all good, and we benefit in many ways when we have more of them in our lives.  

The good news is that we don’t need to wait around for positive emotions to just pop up. Research has shown we can intentionally generate positive emotions by shifting our attention in specific ways.

Each positive emotion has a different way of being generated. Research shows that the following actions reliably generate different positive emotions and positively affect the body’s nervous system, cardiovascular system, and immune system. But they only work if you stick with them.

Practice #1: Meditation

Many different studies show that meditation practices increase positive emotions. These studies use different lengths and kinds of meditation, but it’s pretty clear that this is a proven way to boost positive emotions in your life.

An important caveat is that intense and extended periods of meditation have been shown to decrease positive emotions and cause various mental and emotional challenges. These problems usually go away after stopping meditation, but it’s good to keep in mind that it’s not all sunshine and roses when it comes to meditation.

Practice #2: Gratitude lists

When researchers have participants write lists or regularly think about things in their lives they’re grateful for, positive emotions increase as do the benefits associated with these emotions.

The important characteristic of these practices is that they’re done every day and time is set aside to really reflect on the things we’re grateful.

Here are three great gratitude exercises for kids, and 10 for adults.

Practice #3: Visualizing your best possible self

Positive emotions naturally arise when we perceive something in our environment that’s beneficial (or potentially beneficial) to us. Visualization practices hack this system by imagining beneficial things happening for us. It’s a way to manufacture optimism and hope.

The best-studied visualization practice includes imagining your best possible self, and writing about your mental imagery of your best possible self.  Here’s a basic step-by-step of the process. For something with a little more detail, check this out.

Practice #4: Supportive social interaction

Positive emotions can be sparked by supportive social interaction, but positive emotions also spark more supportive social interactions. Supportive social interaction occurs in many different ways, but what they all have in common is that they develop a sense of connection. In one study, researchers found that when people talk about something personal and revealing, even to a stranger, that they begin to sync their behaviors and report a greater connection.

Yes Collective Level Up Parent Communication Practices and Authentic Relating materials offer a great start to building more positive social interactions.

Practice #5: Music

Perhaps the easiest and most common way we all generate positive emotions in our lives is through music. That favorite song? The night out dancing? The concerts you used to love going to (but can’t now that you’re a parent)?

Unsurprisingly, there’s a bunch of research that shows that music reliably increases positive emotions, especially when physical movement is involved. Sometimes we get caught up in the hectic, overwhelming rhythm of parenthood. But music is always there for us, just a Spotify playlist away from good vibes. And remember: positive emotions increase even more when you shake your booty.

Every Friday, we bring you five related things, ideas, facts, or practices that we hope will make your parenting journey a little easier. This week, we’re focusing on all the good feels. They aren’t just nice to have around; they can have huge effects on our family’s health.

Researchers have found that the more positive emotions people report, the lower their risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, colds and respiratory illnesses, and even early death. Positive emotions also help us recover from the ill effects of stress, bad moods, and conflict.

How do positive emotions arise? The research explanation is that positive emotions arise when we become aware of something we think is beneficial to us (and negative emotions arise when we become aware of something we think is bad for us).

As we all know, there are a wide range of different positive emotions. The most well-researched ones are love, joy, gratitude, serenity (contentment), interest (aka flow), hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love. Each arises in different contexts, encourages different thoughts and actions, and gives us different resources. They’re all good, and we benefit in many ways when we have more of them in our lives.  

The good news is that we don’t need to wait around for positive emotions to just pop up. Research has shown we can intentionally generate positive emotions by shifting our attention in specific ways.

Each positive emotion has a different way of being generated. Research shows that the following actions reliably generate different positive emotions and positively affect the body’s nervous system, cardiovascular system, and immune system. But they only work if you stick with them.

Practice #1: Meditation

Many different studies show that meditation practices increase positive emotions. These studies use different lengths and kinds of meditation, but it’s pretty clear that this is a proven way to boost positive emotions in your life.

An important caveat is that intense and extended periods of meditation have been shown to decrease positive emotions and cause various mental and emotional challenges. These problems usually go away after stopping meditation, but it’s good to keep in mind that it’s not all sunshine and roses when it comes to meditation.

Practice #2: Gratitude lists

When researchers have participants write lists or regularly think about things in their lives they’re grateful for, positive emotions increase as do the benefits associated with these emotions.

The important characteristic of these practices is that they’re done every day and time is set aside to really reflect on the things we’re grateful.

Here are three great gratitude exercises for kids, and 10 for adults.

Practice #3: Visualizing your best possible self

Positive emotions naturally arise when we perceive something in our environment that’s beneficial (or potentially beneficial) to us. Visualization practices hack this system by imagining beneficial things happening for us. It’s a way to manufacture optimism and hope.

The best-studied visualization practice includes imagining your best possible self, and writing about your mental imagery of your best possible self.  Here’s a basic step-by-step of the process. For something with a little more detail, check this out.

Practice #4: Supportive social interaction

Positive emotions can be sparked by supportive social interaction, but positive emotions also spark more supportive social interactions. Supportive social interaction occurs in many different ways, but what they all have in common is that they develop a sense of connection. In one study, researchers found that when people talk about something personal and revealing, even to a stranger, that they begin to sync their behaviors and report a greater connection.

Yes Collective Level Up Parent Communication Practices and Authentic Relating materials offer a great start to building more positive social interactions.

Practice #5: Music

Perhaps the easiest and most common way we all generate positive emotions in our lives is through music. That favorite song? The night out dancing? The concerts you used to love going to (but can’t now that you’re a parent)?

Unsurprisingly, there’s a bunch of research that shows that music reliably increases positive emotions, especially when physical movement is involved. Sometimes we get caught up in the hectic, overwhelming rhythm of parenthood. But music is always there for us, just a Spotify playlist away from good vibes. And remember: positive emotions increase even more when you shake your booty.

Enjoying this article? Subscribe to the Yes Collective for more expert emotional wellness just for parents.

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