We’ve all experienced positive emotions throughout our lives. People believe that to be happy, one must also feel happy.
But what does “feeling of happiness” really mean? What exactly are positive emotions and how do they influence our lives? Experiencing emotional pleasure is something everybody aims for.
Emotions such as happiness, joy, hope, or excitement are part of our everyday lives. Our positive experiences include an even broader range of emotions. But positive emotions are much more than a simple daily experience of pleasantness.
Modern positive psychology aims to study positive emotions on a scientific level to find out how they impact our mental and physical health, what their role is in enhancing psychological well-being, and if there are any strategies to increase their emotional effect in our lives.
In this article, we’ll discuss the impact of positive emotions, find out the attitude towards positive emotions in today’s psychology, and see how to transform negative emotions into positive ones.
We’ll also provide examples of 90+ positive emotions and give you tips about enhancing them.
What Are Positive Emotions?
Most people consider positive emotions to be just “happy feelings” that help us reduce daily stress and lead to sensory pleasure. They indeed play a significant role in our everyday life but in fact, positive emotions are more than just feelings of pleasure.
Positive Emotions is one of the most emerging topics of research in the field of Positive Psychology. Positive emotions are usually defined as multicomponent response tendencies to stimuli that are perceived as pleasant.
The reason for their multicomponent nature is that they consist of hormones, facial expressions, and thoughts and include changes in our central nervous system, meaning that they are more than just internal emotions (Fredrickson & Cohn, 2008).
The concept of Positive Emotions is related to the name of Barbara Fredrickson, an author of the Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions.
As she claims, the resources people gain through positive emotions structure the emotions from which they are acquired. As time goes by, these emotional resources develop into the overall well-being of an individual (Fredrickson, 2001).
Positive emotions include pleasant situational responses and include various feelings, including interest, contentment, love, or joy. However, positive emotions aren’t the same as just pleasurable sensations or undifferentiated positive affect.
According to Fredrickson & Cohn (2008), they help us overcome difficult situations and lead to successful adaptation, happiness, and growth. They lead to goal attainment in various fields, such as work, school, mental health, physical health, or relationships.
The Importance of Positive Emotions
Positive emotions have a significant influence on most domains of life. Not only do they help people feel good, but a sense of pleasure is an integral part of psychological well-being.
Although positive affect usually leads to hedonic pleasure, which is temporary, it can also provide a basis for rather steady and long-term emotional satisfaction and eliminate the effects of stress (Leger, 2020).
Besides, according to the research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the positive effect plays an important role in creative problem-solving.
This means that the feeling of happiness helps us focus on both the inner and outside world and find an original and previously unknown solution to a problem.
Moreover, positive emotions lead people to feel an emotional connection with their loved ones. Usually, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) plays a key role in love and social interaction.
In fact, positive affect is an integral part of EQ and significantly contributes to the process of expression of emotions. As a result, positive emotions mediate the relationship between Emotional Intelligence and positive outcomes in romantic relationships.
Another reason why experiencing positive emotions is important in our daily lives is that they contribute to various types of positive outcomes, such as improved immune functioning, reduced pain, and increased enthusiasm for life.
All these factors contribute to improved subjective and psychological well-being and help us feel we’re living a happy and healthy life.
List of 25 Positive Emotions
Types of Positive Emotion
Aside from the positive and negative dimensions of emotions, there are many different types of emotions within these two categories.
Feeling of acceptance, feeling of brightness, and feeling of curiosity are some of the typical types of positive emotions.
However, they usually vary according to one’s energy level. Generally, emotions are linked to energy levels. Based on the idea of energy levels, James Russel introduced Emotion Circumplex Theory.
According to this model, emotions are distributed in two dimensions: arousal and valence (Posner et al., 2005). Therefore, we can divide positive emotions into low-energy and high-energy types.
Low-energy Positive Emotion
Positive emotions are more likely to be perceived as high-energy emotions as they leave the feeling of pleasure. However, some low-energy emotions are also considered positive.
Some of the typical examples of low-energy positive emotions include calm, content, bliss, or peacefulness. Experiencing low-energy positive emotions doesn’t require much energy and arousal.
Unlike high-energy emotions, low-energy ones aren’t connected to a dangerous situation. Respectively, low-energy positive emotions have less impact on improving our mood.
Examples of Low-energy Positive Emotions:
- Relaxation – a state of being calm, free of stress, anxiety, and tension.
- Calmness – a state of being free from arousal, agitation, and any type of strong sensation.
- Content – a state of feeling satisfaction without agitation, feeling happiness peacefully.
- Peacefulness – a state of calm, serenity, and tranquility, characterized by a complete lack of confrontation.
- Bliss – a state of calm happiness, supreme joy, or contentment.
High-energy Positive Emotion
High-energy positive emotions include more difficult emotions such as joy or excitement. Most of the time, positive emotions are often equated with high-energy emotions because this is the dimension that leads to happiness or improving well-being.
However, high-energy emotions are considered positive mostly in Western, individualistic cultures, where subjective well-being is praised. On the contrary, eastern, collectivistic cultures value low-intensity positive emotions.
Examples of High-energy Positive Emotions:
- Joy – a sense of pleasure and happiness that comes from great achievement or success.
- Excitement – a sense of being eager or feeling enthusiasm and interest.
- Enthusiasm – being actively interested in a particular activity or subject and feeling eager to take part in it.
- Happiness – a feeling of pleasure and excitement, being satisfied with something and expressing this emotion.
- Astonishment – a condition of suddenly feeling a surprise or amazement that lasts for long.
What Psychology Says for Positive Emotion
Barbara Fredrickson was the pioneer of the scientific examination of positive emotions. She introduced a completely new theoretical perspective on positive emotions in the emerging field of positive psychology.
Fredrickson developed the Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions and presented the idea that positive emotions broaden our thinking and behavioral patterns that result in an upward spiral of emotions and help us grow socially, psychologically, and intellectually (Fredrickson, 2001).
Today, there are a lot more positive psychologists that are interested in studying positive emotions. The reason for the increased importance of this construct is the effect positive emotions have on mental and physical health.
For example, the latest research proves the significance of positive emotions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, positive emotions helped participants improve coping mechanisms and experience better resilience during the first wave of the pandemic.
Moreover, positive emotions play an important role in the workplace. For example, experiencing various positive emotions is connected to improved goal attainment and the suppression of angry feelings.
Besides, psychotherapists actively rely on positive emotions in the process of therapy. For example, according to Santos et al. (2013), positive emotions reduce depressive symptoms and contribute to the prevention of relapse in the treatment of depression.
Positive Emotions in the Workplace & List of 7 Benefits
Nowadays, HR managers actively use the Broaden and Build theory in the workplace. The reason is that experiencing positive emotions helps employees improve their work performance, social connections, community involvement, and feel better at the workplace in general.
Studies prove that the impact of positive emotions on employee achievement is directly related to positive work outcomes (Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005).
First of all, positive emotions often lead to happiness and gratitude. And the feeling of gratitude motivates the employees to focus on their current goal and perform better.
As a result, positive emotions encourage employees and contribute to increased work engagement and commitment. Aside from benefits in relationships, positive emotions facilitate more effective leadership which improves the follower task performance.
Feeling positive emotions helps the leaders to set attainable goals, estimate the estimated rate of goal and motivate the employees to achieve this enhanced goal for collective benefits.
This results in increased employee job satisfaction and better overall performance of the company. Here is the inclusive list of the 7 most obvious benefits of positive emotions at the workplace.
7 Benefits of Using Positive Emotions in the Workplace:
- Increasing employee performance
- Positive impact on task performance
- Effective leadership
- Better managerial performance
- Enhanced satisfaction
- Enhancing goal attainment
- Improving community involvement
Tips: How to Transform from a Negative Emotion into a Positive Emotion
Considering that negative emotions reduce our well-being and lead to negative outcomes such as reduced emotional connection with people, angry feelings, and daily stress, people often try to change their negative affect and transform negative emotions into positive ones.
Although it may seem like a difficult process at first glance, actually transforming your negative emotions into positive emotions is possible by focusing on energy levels.
Positive and negative emotions are part of a specific spectrum, which means they constantly change and replace one another. Both positive and negative emotions involve a particular degree of energy.
Respectively, high-energy positive emotions have the potential to be replaced by high-energy emotions, and low-energy positive emotions can be replaced by law-energy negative emotions.
For example, you can balance your furious state with excitement, but don’t expect to feel calm when you’re feeling angry.
Here are some tips to learn how to transform a negative emotion into a positive emotion and maintain a positive state of mind.
- Try to recognize your negative emotions – Be aware that you’re feeling something you don’t want to feel and focus on change.
- Identify the reason – Each negative emotion has its own reason. Sometimes it’s easy to notice but sometimes we don’t know why we’re feeling angry or sad. Try to determine the reason for your feelings in order to replace them with positive sensations.
- Decide how you want to feel – In order to transform negative emotions, you need to know exactly how you want to feel. Do you want to feel relaxed? Or maybe you prefer a sudden feeling of excitement or astonishment.
- Express emotions – Replacing negative effects with positive ones is only possible if you get rid of negative emotions. And for this, you need to express negative emotions and focus on positive ones.
- Take action – Focus on positive emotions. Find a situation or an object that will improve your mood and help you feel better.
What is Negative Emotion?
Negative emotion can be defined as feelings that make people dislike themselves and others, reduce their confidence and lead to decreased life satisfaction.
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines negative emotion as an unpleasant, disruptive emotional reaction that slows down the progress toward obtaining goals.
Some of the typical basic negative emotions include anger, envy, sadness, and fear. Negative emotions like anger, grief, jealousy, or sadness reduce our enthusiasm for life and result in long-lasting negative life outcomes.
Positive Emotion Vs. Negative Emotion
Positive and negative emotions differ significantly from each other. Aside from leading to completely different sensations, they affect our brain differently and lead to different kinds of thoughts.
Consequently, we perform different types of behaviors while feeling positive and negative emotions. Specifically, negative emotions increase the stress hormone cortisol and reduce our well-being.
On the contrary, positive emotions lower levels of cortisol and increase quality of life. Besides, negative emotions reduce empathy and often lead to conflict, while positive emotions help us broaden our horizons and be more empathetic toward others.
Frequently Asked Questions About Positive Emotions
What are 5 happy emotions?
People experience a wide range of positive emotions, but some of them are more frequent in our everyday lives.
Specifically, hope, pride, joy, interest, and gratitude are the most frequently experienced and most powerful happy emotions. These emotions help people grow and feel better about their lives.
What are specific positive emotions?
According to Fredrickson BL, there are ten specific positive emotions that people tend to feel: Joy, Gratitude, Serenity, Interest, Hope, Pride, Amusement, Inspiration, Awe, Love.
These basic positive emotions lead to other types of positive affect such as self-confidence, liking, or determination. Experiencing these specific positive emotions is a part of a happy and healthy life.
What is a positive mood?
A positive mood can be defined as an emotional reaction achieved by expressing positive emotions such as happiness, gratitude, or joy.
People with a positive mood tend to be more creative, free, and open-minded. They usually have a better quality of life and overall satisfaction with life.