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The benefits of positive emotions

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Body, Total Force Fitness
Learn about the mental, physical, and emotional benefits that small doses of positive emotions can bring to your life.

Many people believe that positive emotions such as love, joy, gratitude, and happiness are luxuries without purpose. Sure, they make you feel good, but what else do they do for you? You can probably already identify ways in which negative emotions serve a purpose in your life. Anxiety drives you to prepare. Embarrassment can lead you to self-reflect. Guilt can enable you to apologize and make amends. But what purpose do positive emotions serve?

Positive emotions can help you be more creative. If you’ve ever been stuck trying to solve a problem for a long time, positive emotions can help you get outside the box and think more creatively about how to come up with a solution. Think about the last time you felt fear. What happened? Your heart rate sped up, maybe you even sweated, and you felt flustered. Positive emotions can also help bring your body back down to baseline more quickly after experiencing the physical impact of negative emotions. Finally, positive emotions put money in your stress-coping bank. If you find ways to experience a little goodness each day, you will be able to remain more robust in the face of challenges when they do arise.

Positive emotions don't just make you feel good: They’re good for relationships, can lead to success, and build your resilience over time. Think about what brings you feelings of love, joy, and contentment. Is it spending a few uninterrupted minutes with your kid playing on the floor? Sharing a funny video with a teammate over morning coffee? Taking a walk after dinner with your spouse? You have a busy life and lots to juggle. How often do you let opportunities to feel happy fall to the bottom of your priority list? Since the bad in your life can often outweigh the good, make sure you seek out opportunities to savor positive emotions.

Happiness leads to success

HPRC Fitness Arena: Total Force Fitness
Happiness leads to success, and vice versa! Learn why.

You have probably noticed that people tend to be happy when they’re successful. But did you know that it can also work the other way—that happiness can lead to success? Happier people tend to get more excited about chasing after opportunities. Happy people tend to interpret, remember, and even experience life events differently than unhappy people. For example, happy people tend to like other people more readily (leading to positive interactions). And when they are faced with adversity, they tend to use humor and focus on what has gone well recently. Across studies, researchers have found evidence that in marriage, friendship, income, work performance, and health, there is a two-way street: Success leads to happiness and happiness leads to success! Want to experience the successes of a happy person? One strategy is to be sure to somehow experience positive emotions frequently.

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