Positive emotions don't just feel good — they're good for you. Research shows that people feel and do their best when they experience at least three times as many positive emotions as negative ones.
Ready to boost your positivity ratio? Here are 3 ways to increase positive emotions in everyday life:
- Identify and track your positive emotions.
- Focus on a specific positive emotion and act to increase it.
- Use a positivity treasure chest to give yourself a boost.
Track Your Positive Emotions
Name the positive emotions you're already familiar with, the ones you've experienced in your daily life. Make a list. Add new emotions as you notice them.
Now look at your list. Think about (and write down) which activities, situations, or people are involved when you tend to feel each emotion.
You also can look over your list of emotions at the end of the day and write down when you felt different positive emotions. Did you feel proud after playing well on the soccer field? Happy when your friends remembered your birthday? Amused when your history teacher channeled his inner comedian during that day's lesson?
Tracking positive emotions helps us be more aware of the positive feelings we already experience, and the situations or activities that bring them.
Increase a Specific Positive Emotion
Identify a positive emotion you want to increase. Let's say you want to feel more joy. Think of situations or activities you've experienced that made you aware of your joy. Write down as many as you can.
Focus on small, simple things, like a song that makes you feel joyful whenever you hear it. Any time you notice you're feeling joy, consider adding that situation or activity to your list.
After you know what prompts the emotion you want to increase, decide how to fit those activities or others like them into your everyday life. Pick things that are realistic enough to do every day. You may not be able to walk on the beach, but you could still feel joy by listening to a song that reminds you of vacation.
Commit to one or more daily actions that will increase the feeling you want more of in your life. Make time for these experiences. Think of them as the emotional equivalent of your "5 a day" fruits and vegetables — they're good for your emotional health!
Create a Positivity Treasure Chest
Sometimes we forget the way back to feeling positive. We might need a reminder that can lead us back to a happier emotional place. That's when a positivity box (or folder) is really helpful.
A positivity box is a collection of reminders of positive experiences we've had. These reminders bring back the feelings associated with the good moments in our lives, our strengths, joys, and accomplishments, the fun we've had, the books or music that have meaning for us, the people who are important to us. It's a positivity "treasure chest."
Collect things that remind you of positive emotional moments in your life. For example:
- photos or other souvenirs of great times
- awards that remind you of an accomplishment
- cards or notes from special people in your life
- favorite inspirational quotes or song lyrics
- childhood mementos
- something you made or drew
- a gift someone gave you
- a photo of someone you look up to
Put everything in a folder, binder, or special box where you can easily find it. Or make a collage, poster, or mobile of the items. The most important thing is to choose only items that trigger a positive emotion for you. You can add, subtract, and rearrange them any time.
When you feel low or discouraged, take a few minutes to look through your treasure box to boost your positive emotions. Browse through it any time to give yourself a daily serving of positivity.
As you work on increasing your positive emotions, you might notice that you feel happier, more accomplished, and more energetic. A small daily investment of focusing on the positive pays off with big lifetime rewards.