Monday, August 31, 2015

The role of positive emotions in well-being, health and success

Dance by Eva Deli


Whereas negative emotions change from sadness, and incapacitating fear to aggravation and even physical violence, positive emotions spur motivating energy and optimistic enthusiasm in a uniform fashion. Whether we laugh, smile or jump for joy, positive emotions make us generous, kind, embracing, urge us toward order, and positive action. Love is an embracing and uniting feeling, whereas hate is an isolating emotion.

Sages, philosophers and artists have understood the importance of positive emotions for well-being for millennia, but scientifically emotions were not taken seriously until the second part of the twentieth century. Like the sound of an engine or a waterfall, emotions were thought to be just symptoms of consciousness and therefore secondary to higher mental functions. In recent years the importance of emotions is quietly gaining ground in a variety of disciplines; for example, in neurological, psychological, and common-sense observations. It is increasingly clear that emotions are the exclusive motivating force of higher animals. Without motivation, we do nothing. Our emotions determine whether we want to live or die, but they do not let us to take our lives; suicide must be planned carefully. When motivation is strong; it can even give us superhuman abilities. The greatest emotions, such as love, faith, enthusiasm or belief inspire the greatest achievement. The behavior of mammals and people (and even nations) can be impeccably manipulated by emotions. This is intuitively understood by every great teacher, leader, politician, or artist.

Over time emotional interactions form a mental landscape, which determines our confidence level, and regulates our thinking, behavior and relationships in an intimate way. Only positive emotions generate optimism, trust and confidence, the source of emotional stability. Behind every great piece of art, music, literature, or science we find positive emotions, for only the optimistic mind is capable for creativity, or „flow.” Even art that describes terror and suffering carries a positive, optimistic emotional message: the belief in the human potential. And at the basis of abstract mathematics we find harmony, symmetry, and beauty. Faith, love, courage, and awe bubble up with the enthusiasm of the instant, which cannot be postponed for tomorrow. Thus positive emotions are the force of the moment, but their long-term effect is profound. They increase mental energy, making positive emotions the success generators of the mental universe. In the positive attitude mind unnecessary details are eliminated, expanding the sense of time and fueling enthusiasm, generosity, and the energy for happiness and joy. It is important to note that excitement, glee, and selfish joy, which increase brain frequencies on the long term, are not considered positive emotions, as they generate insecurity and remorse. At the same time, catharsis and reaching closure in sadness are uplifting and form positive experience.

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