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Broaden & Build

All emotions have some important role they can play.

Negative emotions have a survival value. Anger can help us stand up for ourselves. Fear can help us look for danger and protect ourselves. Of course they can get out of balance. A bit of stress can help to switch on and focus, but too much gets in the way of performing well.

Positive emotions have important roles, too. Both for life in general and for study. Psychologist Barbara Freidrickson Link to external website talks about the 'broaden and build' theory of positive emotions. When we are playful we are often more creative.

Times of feeling intimate and affectionate are crucial for feeling good for a social animal like a human. Allowing time for reverie allows space for new ideas to emerge.

Appreciation is a big one. Sometimes life gets busy and it's hard just to keep up.

Stopping to appreciate the good things makes a difference. Savouring the moment lets the positive feelings expand.

Building Positive Emotions

Studies of creativity have found that often the biggest breakthroughs come in times of taking breaks and relaxing - it is as if the conscious mind has to switch off for a while for the unconscious mind to let new ideas 'bubble up'.

Another way to feel good is to meditate. Studies of meditation have found that some of the world's happiest people get that way by meditating and thinking compassionate thoughts.

In the modern world, it can be easy to become over-stimulated. When there is too much going on, not only can people burn out, but it is as if we start to recalibrate our systems so more stimulation means we need even more and more to feel the fun of it. Meditation helps to reset the system, and the mind and body start to find pleasure in the simplest things.

Top Tips

We've created a number of top tips to help you learn more about, and build, positive emotion.


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