Fuel for resilience!
Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson and her colleagues have found that positive emotions are the “fuel” for resilience. They help people find meaning in ordinary and difficult events. Finding meaning in life events leads to more positive emotions, which in turn leads to a greater ability to find meaning and purpose. Fredrickson calls this an “upward spiral” of greater well-being. They also found that resilient people still felt as many negative emotions as less happy people, often very intense ones. But they felt more positive emotions, and it was the positive emotions that accounted for “their better ability to rebound from adversity and stress, ward off depression, and continue to grow.” Their increase in happiness came from feeling good; not from avoiding feeling bad.
The reason positive emotions predicted resilience and greater happiness is that positive emotions help us build skills and internal resources. Positive emotions like kindness, amusement, creativity, and gratitude put us in a frame of mind to explore the world around us and build a larger repertoire of assets that we can draw on in stressful times. In other words, “Happy people become more satisfied not simply because they feel better, but because they develop resources for living well.”