Method Description

Habit: Boosting
Positive Emotions

A large survey examining what people want out of mental health services found that the ability to boost positive emotions was one of the most common themes. This is a relatively new approach in the field of psychology, as Martin Seligman explains:

“When as a therapist I helped to clear away the misery in the person’s life, I didn’t end up with a happy patient, I ended up with an empty patient. That’s because the skills of flourishing—of having positive emotions, meaning, good work and positive relationships—are different from the skills of minimising suffering.”

Positive psychology, the study of happiness and fulfilment, is now a rapidly growing field offering us practical insights into the art and science of boosting positive emotions.
 

Types of Positive Emotions


 

Boosting Positive Emotions Can Be Challenging

Research shows we’re not very skilled at predicting what leads to joy and contentment, the two pillars of happiness. Psychologists refer to this as our “poor affective forecasting” skills.

If you’ve been experiencing low mood for a long time, boosting positive emotions can feel difficult at first. Don’t worry—with time and effort, it gets easier. Every time we elicit a positive emotion such as gratitude, hope or compassion, we build a tiny bit of neural structure in our brain. Doing this repeatedly gradually rewires our brain so that it becomes easier over time. Eventually, it can completely transform the way we feel and act.

“I spent years exploring my negative emotions in therapy, digging deep into my unhappiness, each time re-opening the wounds and bringing past hurt to the front of my mind. It wasn’t until I went down the opposite route, that of boosting positive emotions that I finally began to recover and move out of depression.” – Miriam Akhtar

 

Two Key Ways to Boost Positive Emotions

Through What We Do

Through Our Mindsets
and Thoughts

 

Through What We Do


"By investing in activities that generate positive emotions, you’re investing in your future and opening yourself up to the possibility of a transformation." - Miriam Akhtar

  • Activity Scheduling and Optimisation: The The Happiness and Mindful Living Planner is designed to help you explore activity scheduling and optimisation, as well as containing a comprehensive set of tools to help you boost mood and cultivate mindfulness
  • Practising-Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM): research by Barbara Frederickson and colleagues showed that practicing seven weeks of loving-kindness meditation increased love, joy, contentment, gratitude, pride, hope, interest, amusement, and awe. These positive emotions produced increases in many personal resources (e.g., increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, decreased illness symptoms), which, in turn, predicted increased life satisfaction and a reduction in low mood. Practise LKM with an app such as Insight Timer
  • Soft-Smiling: Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh emphasises the practise of soft-smiling whilst meditating. This is due to our internal feedback loop—studies show that even forcing a smile can lead to a boost in positive emotion
 

Through our Mindsets and Thoughts


"The key to being happier is to pay more attention to what makes you happy and less attention to what does not."
- Paul Dolan

  • The Two Arrows of Happiness Mindset: click here to read an excerpt from The Framework outlining The Two Arrows of Happiness Mindset
  • The Best Possible Self Exercise: The Best Possible Self exercise helps us cultivate helpful beliefs and thinking patterns towards ourselves, building a more positive self-concept, our sense of purpose and hope for the future. A study by Sonja Lyubomirsky showed that after 2 weeks of doing this exercise, participants showed significant increases in optimism and wellbeing compared to a control group. This exercise can be found within The Happiness and Mindful Living Planner
 

The Benefits of Booting Positive Emotions


“One of the main discoveries in positive psychology has been that positive emotions not only feel good, then do us good, too. They help us feel better, to recover from adversity and to access an upward spiral of emotional wellbeing, which counteracts the downward spiral into depression, and they also bolster us against life’s stresses.” – Miriam Akhtar

Boosting positive emotions can be described as a keystone habit—a habit that positively affects several areas of your life at once.

Studies show boosting positive emotions leads to an upward spiral of:

  • More energy
  • More confidence
  • Being friendlier to others
  • Being kinder to others
  • Becoming more productive
  • Becoming more loving towards others
  • More creativity
  • Being more forgiving to others
 

The Happiness and Mindful Living Planner

  • Cultivate mindfulness, gratitude and self-compassion
  • Explore activity scheduling and optimisation
  • Complete The Best Possible Self Exercise
  • And much more!
Get the planner
 

Insight Timer

“Join millions learning to meditate on Insight Timer to help calm the mind, reduce anxiety, manage stress, sleep deeply and improve happiness. Guided meditations and talks led by the world’s top mindfulness experts, neuroscientists, psychologists and meditation teachers from Stanford, Harvard, Dartmouth and the University of Oxford. Music tracks from world-renowned artists.

With 10+ new free guided meditations added daily, more meditation is practiced on Insight Timer than anywhere else. Great for both beginners and experienced practitioners.

Free features include:

  • Thousands of guided meditations
  • Select by time for short meditations when on the go, helping you to build a simple daily habit
  • Thousands of music tracks and ambient sounds to calm the mind, focus, sleep better and relax
  • The world's most popular meditation Timer
  • Follow your favourite teachers
  • Thousands of discussion groups and community features
  • Stats and milestones for tracking your progress

iTunes link Google Play link
 

Bibliotherapy

Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression: Self-help Strategies to Build Strength, Resilience and Happiness by Miriam Akhtar
According to World Health Organization, 350 million people worldwide currently suffer from depression are you one of them? Most of us are visited by that dreaded black dog at least once in our lives, and overcoming this illness is undoubtedly one of life s most painful struggles sometimes one that feels impossible. Expert positive psychologist Miriam Akhtar has been in your shoes but now has over 10 years experience helping people shake away their demons and enhance their own well-being, accompanied by the latest neuroscience findings to ground her mission in clear and powerful science.

You are not alone, and Miriam Akhtar is here to guide you through a diverse range of scientifically proven strategies such as practicing gratitude, savouring positive experiences, learning optimism and appreciating your own strengths that can also help prevent future slips into depression. Take back control of your own well-being and see how Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression can revolutionise your recovery, instilling confidence, strength and optimism into your every step.

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positive psychology overcoming depression
Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson
Recent scientific breakthroughs have revealed that what we think and feel changes the brain. Dr Rick Hanson’s Hardwiring Happiness is the first book to show how to transform the simple positive experiences of daily life into neural structures that promote lasting health, contentment, love and inner peace.

To keep our ancestors alive, our brain evolved a ‘negativity bias’, which lets positive experiences flow through it like water through a sieve. Yet positive experiences are the building blocks needed for health, happiness and fulfilling relationships. Drawing on neuroscience and the contemplative traditions, Hardwiring Happiness shows how to overcome that negativity bias and get those good experiences into the brain where it can use them, providing the tools we need to heal old wounds, develop our inner resources and, ultimately, transform our lives.

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The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
Most people want to be successful in life. And of course, everyone wants to be happy. When it comes to the pursuit of success and happiness, most people assume the same formula: if you work hard, you will become successful, and once you become successful, then you'll be happy. The only problem is that a decade of cutting-edge research in the field of positive psychology has proven that this formula is backwards. Success does not beget happiness.

Based on the largest study ever conducted on happiness and human potential (a survey conducted by the author of more than 1,600 students), Harvard lecturer Shawn Achor shares seven core principles of positive psychology that each one of us can use to improve our performance, grow our careers, and gain a competitive edge at work. He reveals how happiness actually fuels success and performance, not the other way around. Why? Because when we are happier and more positive we are more engaged, creative, resilient to stress, and productive. The Happiness Advantage will appeal to anyone who wants practical advice on how to become happier and also more successful..

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happiness advantage shawn achor
Happiness by Design by Paul Dolan
How can we make it easier to be happy? Using the latest cutting-edge research, Professor Paul Dolan reveals that wellbeing isn't about how we think - it's about what we do. By making deliberate choices that bring us both pleasure and meaning, we can redesign our lives for maximum happiness - without thinking too hard about it.

View on Amazon
 

Gratitude Journalling

The Five Minute Journal
The Simplest Way to Start Your Day Happy: using the science of positive psychology to improve happiness, The Five Minute Journal focuses your attention on the good in your life. Improve your mental well-being and feel better every day.

Complain Less, Appreciate More: The Five Minute Journal helps you cultivate gratitude. It changes how you feel, alters the actions you take, and therefore the results you will create...negativity be gone!

Finally Keep a Journal: with a simple structured format that takes just 5 minutes, The Five Minute Journal is simple, quick, and effective. Whatever your excuse for not keeping a journal is, this journal will eliminate them.

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five minute journal
Diaro
Diaro is a multi-platform diary app, designed to record your activities, daily events, appointments, experiences, thoughts, secrets and ideas throughout the day and sync data across all your devices. It helps you organize your daily diary / journal entries or notes from the past in the easiest way.

Powerful search is available to help you find diary entries by any keyword in the title or text and filter results by date, folder, tags or location. Preserve your special memories, store personal moments & memories or keep track of your life with help of Diaro.

Diaro can easily be used as a classic diary, travel journal, mood tracker, simple note editor, business planner, daily expense tracker or even as diet journal.
 

Boosting Positive Emotions Print Reminders

Gratitude print
hope print
focus on good print
roald dahl print
 

Podcasts

Being Well with Rick Hanson
Learn how to increase our everyday happiness, build inner strengths, and get the most out of life.

We recommend:

being well podcast rick hanson
Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations
Awaken, discover and connect to the deeper meaning of the world around you with SuperSoul. Hear Oprah’s personal selection of her interviews with thought-leaders, best-selling authors, spiritual luminaries, as well as health and wellness experts. All designed to light you up, guide you through life’s big questions and help bring you one step closer to your best self.

We recommend:

The One You Feed
Open minded discussions of habits, meditation, wisdom, depression, anxiety, happiness, psychology, philosophy, and motivation.

We recommend:

 

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