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Cultivating Positive Emotions

Positive emotions hold value and can be encouraged in our lives, here’s some ideas on that.

What emotions do for us

  • Negative emotions have value, they highlight and prepare us for difficult situations (usually the next 3-30 seconds)
  • Genuine positive emotions have value on their own, they are only related to pleasure, like cousins.
  • Physical pleasure tends to narrow attention, and are linked to immediate rewards
  • Positive emotions broaden attention and are linked to long term reward systems

10 Positive Emotions

  • Joy – Occurs in life where you feel safe and familiar, little effort required. There’s also a quiet joy
  • Gratitude – When you receive something beyond what you deserve
  • Serenity – Occurs in life where you feel safe and familiar, nothing needs done, as an afterglow emotion
  • Interest – Occurs in life where you feel safe and familiar, your attention is drawn to something new, you’re very activated and motivated
  • Hope – Occurs in life when circumstances are difficult,  you have a belief things can be better
  • Pride – Occurs in life when you’ve caused something good to happen
  • Amusement – Occurs in life where you feel safe, something is unexpected, and usually there’s a social element
  • Inspiration – When we see example of someone modeling the best in human nature
  • Love – Includes all of the positive emotions above, adds to them, and is shared


Cultivate Positive Emotions by:

  • Remembering when we felt them before
  • Acting like we do when we feel them, via actions
  • Putting ourselves in situations where we’re most likely to feel them again.
  • Being more mindful of what we’re already feeling
  • Emotions can’t be forced, only supported and allowed