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Choosing to Cultivate Positive Emotions

Practicing gratitude: Practicing expressing gratitude leads to increased levels of optimism, increased mood, wellbeing and positive emotions. It helps us to re-orientate the negativity bias of the mind so as to notice and appreciate more fully the good things in our lives that are already happening.


What role does mindfulness play: By practising mindfulness we are slowing down, being present and creating a space between the stimulus and response. Jack Kornfield calls this the “sacred pause”. In doing so we are more likely to respond with wisdom instead of from habits as we open to the possibilities in that space.


In practising gratitude, it is important to remember that we are not trying to minimise or deny the difficulties of life;-  injustice, pain, loss, stress, illness or engage in toxic positivity. I would never say to someone that they should be grateful.


Rather there is the potential to hold both the challenges and difficulties of life AND the possibility of also recognising the many good things that are already happening but we may be missing because we are racing through life and we tend to take the good for granted.


Because of the negativity bias of our mind we don't tend to place as much significance on, or even to recognise the positive and meaningful things in our life.


It is also true that we become habituated to pleasurable experiences such that we don't notice them. This is referred to as “hedonic adaptation”.


If we can bring awareness to the positives, to the things that give us pleasure by deepening our experience of it, making it more vivid and real by bringing awareness to it, perhaps by feeling it in the body, it's possible to turn a positive experience into a resource that can build resilience and strength that we can draw upon into the future.


We can choose to cultivate positive emotions OR to stay stuck in our habitual negativity, our resentments, hurts, disappointments, woundedness.

How we react to things in general e.g. angrily, sadly, happily, anxiously etc. is mainly the result of habit unless we make a conscious choice to do something different - that is to get off automatic pilot.

When we start practicing “seeing the good” – it is everywhere.  What we attend to becomes the inclination of the mind.


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