This is part two of a four part series on Flourishing
Flourishing involves the ability to bounce back to normal after stress. By “normal” I mean a state in which we can function optimally; a calm state that scientists refer to as “homeostasis.” Becoming calm after having a negative reaction, or returning rapidly to homeostasis, signifies resilience. It helps you flourish when you can right yourself quickly.
What helps you return to a calm state and flourish more easily? One thing that helps is having lots of positive emotions. In fact, according to recent research we need on average three times more positive emotions than negative emotions to truly flourish.
Positive emotions make you more creative, tolerant and flexible; they literally improve your mindset, enhancing attention, intuition and resilience. They also lead to happier relationships and more professional success. Incredibly, they also make your health better by decreasing inflammation and boosting your immune system, thereby lessening pain and illness.
To get more positive emotions, make some plans to trigger them.
Each of your three aspects has particular circumstances that reliably elicit positive emotions. Here are some of my ideas to start with, but please feel free to create your own lists.
Your Primitive Aspect triggers joy when you satisfy the needs of your body
- Eat (healthy, delicious, consume with awareness)
- Rest (arrange to care for yourself when you are likely to be most tired)
- Exercise (with a friend, in nature, fun sports)
- Touch (Back rub, foot rub, give a massage, bath)
- Have Sex (with a partner, alone, fantiasize, experiment)
- Satisfy curiosity (a new route home, explore a new area of interest)
- Enjoy natural beauty (a walk in the woods, stargazing)
- Express yourself creatively (dance, paint, sing, play music, cook, move)
Your Social Aspect creates positive emotions when you connect to others:
- Spend time with people (who feel good, make you laugh, or bring peace)
- Be kind, generous, or giving (read with your child, volunteer with a charity )
- Connect to feelings of gratitude (thank those who have helped you)
- Do things that give you a “sense of belonging” to something you value
- Forgive yourself and others more readily
Your Reasonable Aspect generates positive feelings when you learn something new, make plans, and find meaning:
- Learn (take up bridge, join a book group, read online)
- Read (try a new genre)
- Solve a puzzle (crossword, jigsaw, Sudoko)
- Take a class (something you’re been interested in knowing more about)
- Go to a cultural event (a concert, museum, art gallery)
- Write something (journal, op-ed, article, letter, email, poem)
Each of our aspects offers a multitude of opportunities to experience positive emotions; creating more of these opportunities helps steer you towards resiliency, calm and flourishing.