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Negative & Positive Emotions + Mindfulness

By Wendy Vance 

Did you know that mindfulness can increase positivity? By practicing mindfulness, we can become aware of our emotions in a non-judgmental way. Negative emotions and positive emotions have benefit to our human existence. Did you know that our negative emotions developed to keep us safe? As we have evolved through the centuries, our emotional world has also matured. Negative emotions served to narrow our experience. For instance, when you feel fear, you want to escape. When you feel anger, you want to attack. When you feel shame, you want to disappear or perhaps feeling sadness will cause you to want to withdraw. These emotions and actions have stood the evolutionary test of time. Our ancestors needed these negative emotions to react to threat and to do that quickly. Missing the bad was life threatening…whereas missing the good was not. Fortunately, through mindfulness practice, we can counter this strong negativity bias within our brains.

We are also gifted with positive emotions. Our positive emotions are broadening. They allow us to experience actions that make us want to build, to grow and to expand. The resulting actions from positive emotions are not narrowing. People will experience them in many unique ways. Some actions that may occur from joy could be to feel free or playful. The emotion of interest may lead us to pursue exploration. Experiencing the state of contentment can lead to the action of savoring. Savoring may involve cherishing, delighting and appreciating our positive encounter. Lastly, when experiencing the emotion of love or tenderness, we may act in all the ways I just mentioned and even more.

When you are mindful of your emotions, the key is knowing when you need negative emotions and when you need positive ones. The practice of mindfulness can help you to induce the emotional state that you want to experience in that moment.

For most of us, the goal is to increase our positive emotions and to feel them often. How can you do this? The easiest way is to schedule “positive events.” Remember, the brain quickly habituates to positive occurrences and emotions and holds on to negative events and emotions much stronger and for a longer period.  In order to counteract this evolutionary tendency, we need to infuse ourselves with positive events frequently. Two ideas to add or continue in your mindfulness practice are to savor your experience and deepen your gratitude practice. 

Incorporate your five senses to generate the act of savoring. 

This will help you to infuse the experience with positivity. One of my daily mindfulness practices occurs each morning. In order to start my day with savoring, I enjoy the positive experience of deeply breathing in the delicious roasted scent of my coffee, slowly sipping the warm liquid, and feeling my hands around my favorite mug. Savoring involves slowing down and experiencing every little part of an event.

Increase positive emotions through gratitude. 

You can cultivate gratitude further by reflecting on three good things that happened for the day and what you did to contribute to those good things. By taking the extra step to practice reflecting on your personal contribution to the gratitude experience, you will increase the awareness of joy, peace and connection that is other centered.

What are some ways that you prioritize and generate more positivity in your life and mindfulness practice?

About Wendy

Wendy Vance, M.S is an educator, mentor, coach and soon to be positive psychology practitioner. She teaches success strategies and professional exploration topics at Montgomery County Community College in PA and University of Maryland Global Campus. Wendy is passionate about striving to live a flourishing life and sharing positivity in the world. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


3 thoughts on “Negative & Positive Emotions + Mindfulness

    1. Thanks, Valerie! I appreciate your comment! Look for my part 2 next month on the topic of Toxic Positivity.


      Liked by 1 person

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