We all know that experiencing positive emotions makes us feel good and are a part of what makes our lives enjoyable. The even better news from the science of positive psychology is that the beneficial effects of positive emotions build up over time, a little bit like putting credits in the bank. Studies which have stimulated positive emotions in subjects, showed increases in their wellbeing and satisfaction with life, lasting for 6 months.
Professor Barbara Fredrickson, the eminent researcher at the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab at the University of North Carolina has sought to explain how this works under her “Broaden and Build” construct. Positive emotions “broaden” our awareness of everything around us, and make us open to new thoughts and ideas, and new ways of solving problems. Over time, this “builds” our psychological strengths and knowledge, lessens the effect of more negative emotions, and helps us cope better with challenging days or situations in our lives.
So what does this mean for us mothers? For the sake of our own wellbeing (and of those around us!) we need to proactively seek opportunities to increase our positive emotions. And not feel guilty about doing it!
There are plenty of different positive emotions, and so many ways to experience them. Going to a yoga class might give you feelings of contentment or serenity. Watching a funny movie might amuse you. You might read a book that inspires you. Savouring the good things in your life might help you feel grateful. You might reflect on something that went well in your day and feel a sense of pride or achievement. You might make a cake or some craft with your child which unleashes your creativity. You might go for a walk other mums or just enjoy catching up and connect with others.
Put simply, positive emotions feel good; and they will also boost your well-being longer-term, assist you to be more resilient on tough days and help make your journey of motherhood more enjoyable.
It all adds up to some great reasons to do something today that will make you smile!
References: Adapted by Flourishing Mothers from the work of Barbara Fredrickson