My mantra of the day is “Positive emotions deserve my full attention“. And I feel like that is a topic worth speaking about because although it seems obvious, I bet most of us do not really grasp what it exactly means.
As someone who makes great effort to break negative thinking patterns the concept of training one’s brain to think more positive is not new. I have been acknowledging times I felt good and definitely paid more attention to those moments than in the past.
But today’s topic is not actually about the concept of “just thinking more positive”, but taking it a step further. Because I realized that the range of emotions that I can actively name is not only really small, but the range of positive emotions is even smaller than the one of negative emotions. Meaning I can differentiate several negative emotions such as disappointment, sadness, loneliness, emptiness, anger, anxiety, and so on, but when it comes to positive emotions the only things I can on the spot think about are happy and excited.
The problem here is that using the word “happy” is scary. Because at least I personally associate with that a really strong emotion and therefore it is a word that I do not use lightly. Which in fact makes sense as it is proven that moments of happiness as we know them are rare since we have a limited amount of Serotonin and other hormones (which make us happy) that can be “used up” over a span of time. This means if you have a low Serotonin level you probably will “use it up” sooner (especially during spikes of utter happiness) and need more time to “fill up” the reserve in your brain, causing a “low” in you mood. Good example: the bad mood after taking drugs (especially strong ones, obviously, but also the more “normal” ones like alcohol), which comes from increased “usage” of “positive” hormones in your brain.
(I AM SORRY, I AM NO BIOLOGIST BUT YOU CAN RESEARCH IT IF YOU WANT MORE “INTELLIGENT” INSIGHT ON THAT.)
But. Good news. Happiness, as we romanticize, is not the only positive emotion that exists, and hopefully, after reading this post, not the only emotion we want to feel. AND.. they probably take less effort and energy from you. Because being upbeat, active, and excited all the time is a) really unbalanced, b) probably fake and c) something that is not easy to maintain without getting crazy.
So I made a list of positive emotions.. to read if you have a bad day (to hopefully make you take a more optimistic stance on feeling better soon since the bar is not set as high anymore) or to be able to acknowledge the different emotions between the extremes complete sadness or happiness and maybe even realize that you feel good more often than you think.
A quote that really matches today’s topic is this one by Chuck Palahniuk:
It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show from happiness. We learn so little from peace.
Being less negative requires to actively search for the good things in life even if it seems like there are not any until it becomes easier and easier to think “positive”.
And always remember:
The antidote to negativity is not positivity, it is warmth. Positivity tells you there is no reason to be sad. Warmth asks if you want to go get some ice cream.
Emotions, no matter which ones, deserve to be felt and acknowledged. But we forget to not only give room to negative emotions, but also good/ positive ones.