Thriving at Midlife and Beyond
5 Self-Inquiries to Energize Your Positive Outlook
Experts are finding important links between positive emotions and improved health, resilience, and well-being.
Not long ago I facilitated a community seminar to discuss a journey many of us are traveling – navigating the second half of our lives. Much conversation centered on ingredients that enable people to thrive throughout our lifespan and particularly midlife and beyond.
Positive emotions are major contributors to well-being as we get older, and at any point in life. This idea may ring a bell for you intuitively. It feels good to experience positive emotions! Research is pointing to links connecting positive emotions with personal well-being and health (Fredrickson, 2009; NIH, 2015). Examples of positive emotions include joy, hope, serenity, love, amusement, gratitude, optimism, and happiness. Even the simplest experiences may stimulate these kinds of good feelings. For example, savoring the first bite of a meal, walking in a garden, or a friendly greeting by a store clerk or neighbor. Sharing gratitude and appreciation with someone who has offered a kindness can build positive emotions.
It’s important to note that attending to positive emotions and a positive outlook does not mean we never experience “negative” feelings, like loneliness, sadness or anger. According to social psychologist and researcher, Barbara Fredrickson PhD at the University of North Carolina, it’s important to find a balance between positive and negative emotions. Although negative emotions can be adaptive in difficult situations, expanding our skills to experience positive emotions helps build positivity and resilience, the ability to bounce back from life’s challenges. Dr. Fredrickson explains that creating a habit of seeking a positive outlook can enable us develop toward our best selves.
5 self-inquiries to energize a positive outlook:
- What are some experiences in your life that have stimulated positive emotions?
- In this season of your life, how are the kinds of experiences that bring you positive emotions shifting?
- What are a few simple ways you can more frequently enjoy positive emotions?
- How can you help others around you experience positive emotions?
- What step(s) are you willing to take within the next week to try one of your ideas?
You might find it interesting to take a few moments to think about and respond to these questions. If it seems relevant, in the next week or two try one or two ideas to enhance your own positive emotions. How can you share an opportunity for positivity with others around you?
Please consider one additional inquiry. If you are reading these newsletters, I would appreciate hearing from you – either in conversation when we meet or by email at [email protected]. Your feedback will help me learn what you think about the writings, as well as your ideas for future topics.
Resources and References to Learn More:
- Ben Shahar, T. (2007). Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment. McGraw-Hill, NY.
- Fredrickson, B. (2013). Love 2.0: How our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become. Hudson Street Press, NY.
- Fredrickson, B. (2009). Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the Upward Spiral that will Change your Life. Three Rivers Press, NY.
- NIH News in Health. (August 2015) Positive Emotions and Your Health: Developing a Brighter Outlook. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2015/08/positive-emotions-your-health
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