Thursday, June 9, 2016

Positive Emotions = More Resources = Flourishing

"Further evidence that positive emotions are a key active ingredient in flourishing mental health comes from a detailed unpacking of a Tuesday in the life of flourishing individuals, in comparison to a Tuesday in the life of those not flourishing and to a Tuesday in the life for those identified as depressed (Catalina & Fredrickson, 2011).

Using the Day Reconstruction Method, we tested the hypothesis, drawn from the broaden-and-build theory, that flourishers thrive because they experience greater positive emotional reactivity in response to routine pleasant activities and thereby build more resources over the span of two to three months.

Our results showed that relative to those who do not flourish or who are depressed, people who flourish experience bigger 'boosts' in positivity in response to routine daily events such as helping another person, interacting with others, playing, learning, and engaging in spiritual activity.

Moreover, flourishers' greater positive emotional reactivity, over time, predicted their growth in resources. In turn, flourishers' greater growth in resources predicted their higher levels of flourishing symptoms at the end of the study (controlling for initial levels of flourishing).

We uncovered virtually no differences between flourishers and others in the degree of negative emotions experienced on the targeted Tuesdays. We also uncovered surprisingly few differences between depressed people and non-flourishers, who had been prescreened and selected for showing no signs of flourishing, depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.

This pattern of results suggests that human flourishing is nourished by small, yet consequential, individual differences in positive emotional experiences in response to pleasant everyday events.

Flourishers don't simply 'feel good and do good." Rather they do good by feeling good.

So, just as greater negative emotional sensitivity has been found to seed and maintain depression, a phenomenon called negative potentiation, a parallel positive potentiation process appears to seed and maintain the beneficial - yet all too rare - state of human flourishing (Catalino & Fredrickson, 2011)."

Fredrickson, B.L. (2013). Updated Thinking on Positivity Ratios. American Psychologist. Advance   
     online publication. doi:10.1037/a0033584

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