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Positive emotions enhance mental health and life satisfaction

14 Feb 2011 | PsychCentral

When experiencing an episode of depression, there are often some triggering events that lead to a gradual downward spiral of emotional and physical health. People become more and more overwhelmed and stressed, and begin to deteriorate emotionally, physically, and socially, ultimately becoming exhausted, depressed, and hopeless.

So, the big question is… if negative emotions lead to a narrow view of problem solving and coping, and when chronic, tend to prompt a downward spiral in mood, could there also be an upward spiral that expands thinking and problem solving capabilities from experiencing positive emotions?

Some of the most fascinating research in positive psychology has come from Barbara Fredrickson in examining this concept. Fredrickson is probably best known for her Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions. In this theory she proposes, "that the positive emotions broaden an individual's momentary mindset, and by doing so help to build enduring personal resources.

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