Experiencing positive emotions make us feel good. They can also:
- facilitate an “undo” effect on negative emotions (like when you are in a sad mood, you hear a song you like on the radio and you start feeling brighter)
- aid cardiovascular recovery (from stress) – your heart rate returns to a relaxed state more quickly.
Gratitude is one of the positive emotions that helps to boost our resilience. Gratitude is simply noticing and expressing things (people, experiences, opportunities) we are grateful and thankful for. When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of positive events in our lives. And when we express gratitude to others, we strengthen our relationship with them.
Research in the area of gratitude has shown that how often we experience positive emotions is more important than the intensity of the feeling. Doing things to help us feel gratitude more often is therefore a useful resilience strategy.
There are exercises such as “Three good things” that have been found to be useful for boosting gratitude. The aim of these is to get better at thinking about and savouring what went well, instead of focusing on what is bad or went wrong. Research has found that we are better at noticing and remembering what goes wrong than we are at paying attention to the good things. Exercises like “Three good things” are designed to help us redress the balance.
Exercise: Three good things
Write down three good things that happen each day for a week. The three things can be small in importance (The sun is out today), or big (My friend called to invite me to a movie).
Next to each good event, write about one of the following: Why did this good thing happen? What does this mean to me? How can I have more of this good thing in the future?