Positive Emotions Broaden Our Mind

I continue my watercolor painting journey with Emma Block’s The Joy of Watercolor. If you haven’t read the previous post and are interested, you can check it out here. I share what I learn about taking things one step at a time to enjoy the process and how you can apply this to your life.

Evening painting

I wasn’t feeling so great last night, because I was worried about another problem. Then I kept putting this painting off until the evening, past 8pm. My anxiety tinted my perspective dark. I felt like I couldn’t complete the painting…until I was halfway done! It made me feel better gradually. Unfortunately, I resumed worrying about my other problem and forgot about my painting.

BUT. Looking at it the next day–looking at it right now–I think I did a good job and the colors are so much fun. I get excited looking at it and I am most definitely proud that I did it.

Admiring the colors today!

So, what happened?

Anxiety is a negative emotion. It tells us that something is important to us, but too much of it can “narrow” our field of vision.

In Barbara Fredrickson’s Broaden-and-Build Theory, it says that when we are experiencing positive emotions, we are able to see the bigger picture, and hence, innovate, create and have energy for life. Negative emotions makes us narrow minded.

That sounds right to me. I felt a lot better after painting and seeing it today makes me feel even better. This is my second blogpost I have finished in two hours too!

Feeling much better.

Now I look back and I will implement a few of these activities to help me manage my negative emotions, especially when I need to get work done:

  1. Take some time away
    Painting made me feel better and I called it a night afterwards. I have the same problem I need to solve today, but I feel energized and I can see possible solutions.
  2. Have faith, have hope
    I am Christian, so I try to remind myself everything will work out in God’s timing. It’s not easy and it takes practice. This is an action I have only recently adopted. If you are not Christian or religious, you can recall a time when things worked out for the better. Remember that it can happen again.
  3. Write one thing you are thankful for today
    Gratitude is super powerful because it can shift our perspective. A quarter of my whiteboard is dedicated to listing things I am grateful for. I want to do that throughout the day and especially when I’m not feeling fantastic. I didn’t use that space yesterday. I will have to give it a go again today. Practice makes perfect.

Bringing joy into our lives is a deliberate action. When we make such an investment with our time and energy, the return is exponential. I will work on making the above list a habit and let you know how it goes!

What activities do you do to bring the happy back?

PS. Here is a video of Barbara Fredrickson’s talk about positive emtions:

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