Being Positive is a Learned Behavior

In a new study published in the March issue of the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, researchers at Ohio State University found that during depression the ability to appreciate positive experiences is diminished.  An article about the study is published in the Ohio State University Research News.

I know that this is true because one of the ways I worked through my clinical depression was to print a list of things that made me happy. I made the list of bright yellow cardstock and used many different colored markers so it would be eye-catching and fun. I wrote about it last March and titled it “Good Feelings Action List“.

On the “about page” of Work Happy Now, Karl Staib writes about how he spent years being discontent at work until he learned to enjoy the process. He says that it all stems from communication and the person you communicate with the most is yourself. Being happy is a process that often times takes making a conscious choice to be happy.

In a 1998 study in the Review of General Psychology, Barbara Fredrickson examined “What Good are Positive Emotions?”. She found that the positive emotions of joy, interest, contentment, and love did not fit existing models of emotions. In this study she explored defining these four positive emotions. In the 20 page reprint of her study, she found these benefits for having positive emotions in daily life:

1.  Positive emotions broaden the scope of attention

2.  Positive emotions broaden the scope of cognition

3.  Positive emotions broaden the scope of action

4.  Positive emotions build physical resources

5.  Positive emotions build intellectual resources

6.  Positive emotions build social resources

Photo credit.

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