Is Emotional Diversity Better Than 100% Positivity?

We sometimes see people who want to be happy and beat themselves up if they have negative thought or feeling. Being happy, however, doesn’t mean we have to feel joy or pleasure all the time and walk around with a constant smile. It isn’t possible. Sad things happen. It’s human to grieve our losses.

What is more realistic and healthier is emotional diversity. Just as biodiversity is important for a healthy environmental ecosystem, research suggests experiencing a diverse range of emotions (emodiversity) is important for both the physical and mental health ecosystem of humans.

What Does Research Say About Emodiversity?

A ten-year study found that frequently having mixed emotions had a strong correlation with good physical health. Also, increased mixed emotions over many years reduced typical age-related declines in health. However, this study was a subjective one of fewer than 200 people.

Another small, but objective, study found more diversity in everyday positive emotions was associated with lower levels of inflammation circulating in the body. However, the study found no correlation between the range of negative emotions and inflammation or between the ratio of positive-to-negative emotions and inflammation.

Two more extensive studies, which included more 37,000 people, showed overall emodiversity, that is a mix of positive and negative emotions, was associated with better mental and physical health.

Practical Takeaways

One of the inflammation study researchers, Dr. Anthony Ong, said in a Psychology Today article, “...there are many kinds of happiness, and ... experiencing an abundance of different types of positive emotions in daily life may be beneficial to health.”

He went on to say a simple way to put this into daily practice is “to notice when you are experiencing a positive emotion and tag or label it. When you recognize and label a positive emotion, it may help you experience more varied positive emotions throughout the rest of your day.”

Another researcher is Dr. Barbara Frederickson, a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive. She believes having a 3:1 ratio of three positive emotions to every negative emotion is the key to making life healthier and more vibrant.

Not that we have to count our positive and negative emotions. But if we use Frederickson’s ratio as a general concept or tipping point, we know we don’t have to aim for 100% positivity to flourish.

As part of my coaching practice, I embrace the concept of flourishing — that is, focusing on overall well-being, bringing a sense of meaning and purpose to our lives, and making a conscious effort instead of running on autopilot.

More Thoughts On Happiness and Emotions

When we push negative feelings or emotions away and pretend they don’t exist, they can show up at a later, inappropriate time. The classic example is exploding in anger over a minor incident.

We are human and naturally feel a wide range of emotions. The key is to be aware of our emotions, understand their importance, and make choices that honor our feelings while also leading to better-feeling emotions

You can think of this process as emotional agility. In the book Emotional Agility, Dr. Susan David, a psychologist who is an expert on emotions, shares four key concepts:

1.     Showing Up: Have the willingness to face your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Be curious and kind. 

2.     Stepping Out: Detach from and observe your thoughts and emotions to see that they are just thoughts, just emotions. They are not you.

3.     Walking Your Why: Know your core values and use them as a compass to keep moving in the direction you want to go. 

4.     Moving On: Make small, conscious adjustments to your mindset, motivation, and habits — in ways aligned with your values.

Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness, said in a Psychology Today interview, “What I want people to realize is happiness can be a choice, and it’s something you can practice. But if you’re feeling unhappy, that’s not failure. What we want to steer people away from is apathy, which is that loss of movement.” In other words, embrace emotional diversity and feel whatever emotions arise. But don’t get stuck in them. Keep moving.

Bored at Work? Here's How to Make the Most of It

Sometimes people tell me they are bored at work. That their heart isn’t in it anymore. That they just don’t feel fulfilled.

This apparently is not uncommon, as a 2017 Gallup poll revealed that 33% of workers are actually engaged at work.

How do you know if you’re bored at work?  Well, this is often a case of when you know, you know.

Some signs that you may be bored at work include not feeling challenged, dreading going to work, and creating distractions for yourself throughout the day. You might feel like you’re doing the same thing over and over again. You may experience an overall feeling of “heaviness” during your work day, which may even start on Sunday evening.

If you are bored at work, you can make a conscious effort to add more purpose and meaning into your daily duties. Make a list of things you can do that incorporates your strengths and values that could help make your job meaningful to you. This could include asking for extra or different duties from your boss, or doing something such as organizing a volunteer project or creating a social committee. It could also simply involve reframing how you think about your work and how it might positively impact others. Further, it can help to become aware of what you are grateful for with your work.

With your boss’ permission, you could also possibly job craft, which is to customize your job using your own strengths and interests that align with organizational goals. Advantages to job crafting include greater job satisfaction, overall thriving, increased engagement with work, and employee resilience. (Of course the job crafting would be decided jointly with your boss or a team and often times your original duties would have to still be completed.)

Another thing I often work on with clients is to ensure they have meaning and purpose outside of work, which can often help increase your overall feelings of life satisfaction. For example, have you always enjoyed painting but haven’t done it in years? Do you have a passion for a social issue that perhaps you can do some volunteer work around? Could you join (or start) a Meetup group in your area to meet people with similar interests?

Finally, if you have done what you can to make your situation more pleasant by creating meaningful activities, adding more purpose and using your strengths, yet still can’t find the spark, it could be time to do some reflection and trust yourself. While sometimes moving on takes a great deal of courage, it could be in your highest interest (and sometimes your organization's!) to consider a change. Trust your gut and most of all, believe in yourself. Consciously living a life filled with that which brings you joy is truly life changing.

In the comments, let me know what you plan to do to help your work situation?

Want some help processing it?  Sign up for a free introductory call with me here!

Five simple ways to improve your overall mental health and well-being

I like to think of mental health on a continuum. There is almost always room for improvement when it comes to moving towards flourishing and improving our overall well-being. 

Sometimes even people who are mentally healthy get burned out or find themselves in a rut. If you feel you could use a boost, here are five things you can do that could help move your overall well-being up the spectrum a bit.

Read More

What is your super power?

I just got off a call with someone and it got me thinking about using our strengths --AKA our super powers!

Research shows that we feel a greater sense of happiness and well-being when we utilize our natural gifts. We all have them!

For me, one of my super powers is helping people get unstuck. I had several calls this week (one of them being this morning) in which I was able to help someone get unstuck pretty quickly. It's so fun to see a shift in energy!!

So, I wanted to pop in to remind you all that we all have gifts and sometimes need to make a conscious effort to use them. 

Oftentimes these natural strengths are those same things that LIGHT US UP. Like we can actually feel it in our body. 

I encourage you to pay attention of what those things are for you.  Make a list of them. 

You can then observe the list, and consider how you can incorporate at least one of those into your daily work life. Also, how can you use your strengths to create positive emotions? 

So...what is your super power?  Let me know in the comments below!

Feeling stuck and ready to make some changes in your life? Sign up for a free call with me here!