Staying positive while on a journey away from emotional abuse can be a real challenge. On average we are dealing with rather dark subjects and memories. It can be only too easy to lose yourself in the darkness.
If you’re feeling blue, try painting yourself a different color.
– Hannah Cheatem, age 8
Although most people have more positive than negative experiences in a day, so many of us feel our life is skewed towards the bad. One reason for that distorted perspective is that negative emotions are much louder than positive ones. Negative emotions are about survival. There is something that needs fixing now. And so our brain sends out a nice loud alarm call to kick us into action.
Why It is Good to Feel Good
Positive emotions are far more subtle and are therefore more likely to go unnoticed. Nothing needs to change, all is good in the world. So our brain is not going to hit the action switch. Positive emotions are the ones that make us feel connected, creative, wanting to improve our lives (so we have more of the positive emotions).
Moreover, research shows that people who experience more positive emotions are and become increasingly more resilient. This makes us better equipped to deal with stress and bounce back quicker from difficult situations. As such fostering our positive emotions is a great way to move from surviving to thriving.
So what are these positive emotions we need to cultivate?
- Love – strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties
- Joy – a feeling of great happiness
- Gratitude – a feeling of appreciation or thanks
- Serenity – the quality or state of being calm and peaceful
- Interest – a feeling of wanting to learn more about something or to be involved in something
- Hope – the feeling of wanting something to happen and thinking that it could happen
- Pride – a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people
- Amusement – the feeling of being amused or entertained (usually something that is funny or enjoyable)
- Inspiration – a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something
- Awe – a strong feeling of fear or respect and also wonder
(I plucked these lovely definitions from the Merriam-Webster)
The Positivity Portfolio
The Positivity Portfolio actually serves two purposes. It is a tool to trigger positive emotions, so you can break away from negative feelings on your journey. At the same time, it will familiarize you with these positive emotions, making it easier to begin recognizing them as they occur throughout our lives.
Oh, and it’s kinda fun too!
So what do you? Well, you pick one of the positive emotions above and remind yourself of a time or circumstance you felt that emotion. Now start pulling together objects and mementos that remind you of that time. It can be photos, poems, a recording of a song, your favorite quote, a love letter that your received… you get the idea. It can be a physical collection, but it can also be a folder on your computer or smart phone or a secret board on Pinterest.
Take your time and spend some time on this and enjoy the process.
Once your portfolio is ready, don’t forget to have a look when you feel you are having a bad day…
Want to know more about positive psychology? Here is an interesting article by Barbara L. Fredrickson on The Value of Positive Emotions.
And if you are wondering how positive you really are, why not take this test (try and do it every day for a week or two to get a better idea of where you are, and come back to it throughout your journey to take you positivity temperature :)).