Harness the power of positive emotion to boost your resilience

For decades, resilience research has focused mainly on how negative emotions like sadness, anger, anxiety, and frustration interfere with our ability to recover quickly from adversity. Accordingly, Adaptiv's original resilience training programs helped people build resilience primarily by learning to spend less time in these negative emotions. (Check out our November, 2011 blog post for more on this.)

In the late '90's, psychologists like Marty Seligman, Ed Diener, Barbara Fredrickson and Andrew Shatté began taking a closer look at the impact of positive emotion on resilience and general well-being. By the early 00's, research findings suggested that spending more time in positive emotions like happiness, contentment, pride, interest, and love had a lasting positive impact on mental and physical health. Of particular interest to Adaptiv, Fredrickson's Broaden and Build Theory made a compelling case for the power of positive emotion to boost resiience.

Feeling of top of the worldBased both on findings from our own field studies and from Positive Psychology research, we developed methods and processes to help people become more resilient by learning to feel more positive emotions, tap into their positive workplace and personal values, and find more meaning in both their work and lives at large. In late 2007 we piloted a new version of our one day resilience training that introduced 3 new skills: Harnessing Positive Emotions, Tapping Into Positive Icebergs and Creating Connection. And today, these 3 strength- building skills have become an integral part of our resilience training programs.

Research shows that experiencing positive emotions in a ratio of 3:1 over negative emotions has a significant positive impact on resilience. If you'd like a new way to boost your resilience, here's an exercise you can try. First, pick a positive emotion that you'd like to spend more time in. Then, every day for at least a week:

  • Write down 3 positive things that happened each day.

  • Create 3 positive things each day. Examples: Call someone you haven't spoken with; Show your appreciation for something someone did for you

  • When you're in that positive emotion, milk it! Pay attention to:

    • What you're thinking
    • What you're feeling - both physically and emotionally
    • What you're doing
    • How motivated you are

Please let us know how this exercise works for you. Or share with us how you keep yourself in positive emotion!

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