SMART Strengths: Building Character, Resilience, and Relationships in Youth

Positive Emotion and Managing Your Mood

  • Fast thinking tends to be emotional in either positive or negative ways. (See my summary of Thinking Fast and Slow for more on this.) Negative thoughts tend to narrow our responses to flight, fight, or freeze. Positive emotions have a broader range of responses. They allow us to strengthen connections with others and build mental, social, and physical resources. Research shows that ratios of these emotions in the range of 1:1 results in failure. As the ratio increases towards 1:5 in favor of positive emotions, success is more likely for groups and individuals. Negative emotions can have some value so they shouldn’t be repressed altogether. You are more likely to be effective when your skills are balanced to the challenges you face. Otherwise you are likely to be bored or frustrated and suffering from an excess of negative emotion. (Doug: This is an important lesson for teachers and parents.)
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