Posts

Cultivating Positive Emotions

By now, most of us have heard about surrounding ourselves with as much positive as possible verses negative – but what does that mean when it comes to our relationships?  First we have to look at the quality of our thoughts in general.  Do you tend to think “I can’t do that” or “I can do that”?  Becoming knowledgable on which side you lean towards is the most important step as it creates the awareness of where you presently stand.

The next thing to look at is our emotions.  Are your emotions mostly happy, angry, or a combination of both?  If we look at a wide range of positive emotions—from awe to amusement to interest to inspiration to gratitude—what they all have in common is that they are responses to your current state or experience at that time.  They are usually not a permanent state, only feelings that fluctuate.  This is true for all emotions, however the positive emotions tend to be more temporary, as we do live in a very busy, sometimes overwhelming, world.  Often, we are not aware of the positive emotions due to our tendency to see the negative ones.

Positive emotions are also desired states.  Not only do they feel good, but we desire to feel them, as often as possible.  Some people might say it feels good to be angry, and at times anger can be useful or productive, but generally, people do not desire to feel angry.  Positive emotions can make us healthier and happier if we take time to cultivate them.

When people increase their daily doses of positive emotions, they find more meaning and purpose in life.  They also find that they receive more social support—or perhaps they just notice it more, because they are more attuned to themselves and others.  They begin to show mindful awareness of the present moment and increased positive relations with each other, especially true within your relationship.

SIMPLE STEPS TO CULTIVATING POSITIVE EMOTIONS 

A positive emotional relationship begins with believing in yourself and also in your relationship.  Know that you are both good people who are deserving of each other’s love and kindness.  If this is something you have doubts about, it would be helpful to think about what your needs and wants are along with your partner’s and reaffirm your connection with one another.  If the two of you believe in one another and both of you want a positive lifestyle, you may need to learn how to make the commitment to do your best to maintain a positive demeanor and start with small baby steps.  Being aware of what brings you gratitude, joy and happiness and to notice on a daily basis what actually makes you feel good is the first step of being mindful of positive emotions.

An example would be if you come home from work, exhausted, and take notice that your partner has neglected to do the dishes that have been sitting in the sink all day.  Your partner hands you a cup of tea and suggests you relax.  You have a choice in the moment to either react and get angry at the neglected dishes or take a breath and realize the positive verses the negative.

What is required is the willingness to make a change for the better, being aware of your patterns that are not working, adjusting your thoughts and attitudes toward life and each other.  This process is one that takes time and it will likely take more than a moment for you to see and feel the results.  Much like compassion, positivity is an ongoing process.  As part of that process, you will need to accept that sometimes we experience positive and negative emotions, which is part of life.  We want to be able to understand and accept our negative emotions while not getting caught up in them.  Being aware of the pattern in your relationship gives you the opportunity that your negative thoughts and emotions sometimes serve a purpose on what we can learn from them and what we would like to change to live a happier and healthier life.

Cultivating positive emotions and allowing that feeling to flow through your relationship is a great way to go through life with the one you love.

Is Your Outlook on Life Positive or Negative?

Your outlook on situations and experiences can be broken down to be defined as either a positive outlook or a negative outlook. The left prefrontal cortex in a resilient person can be 30 times that of someone who is not as resilient – this means that there is a a pretty big difference in brain activity within people who are clinically depressed and those who are not clinically depressed. For people who suffer from depression, activity in the right prefrontal is much higher. For people who are healthier and have an overall positive outlook on life, activity is the left prefrontal is greater. In other words, left side activity equals positive and right side equals negative.

The thing to remember about these specific findings is that everyone has ups and downs in their lives, so the left and/or right asymmetry can change. This relates back to the first style – adversity – under certain difficult periods of people’s lives, they may behave and/or react differently during these times. This is simply just part of the ebb and flow of life as a human.

Dr. Richard Davidson has been doing research on the emotional styles of the brain for over twenty years. Dr. Davidson’s research has been on all kinds of walks of life, including everyday hard-working Americans, undergraduate volunteers, children and infants, and also a Tibetan monk community. These monks lent their time and brains to science by having Dr. Davidson run MRI’s and EEG’s on them. In his findings, Dr. Davidson has found that these monk’s left prefrontals were off the chart compared to his other findings making this evidence for the stark difference in the brain activity that underlie emotional and personality differences. The monks are constantly smiling, people of good will and constantly help one another. And their brains can prove it.

Photo courtesy of Ambro and www.freedigitalphotos.net

Embracing Positivity in Relationships

Life is wrought with challenges and stress, and it can be tempting to give in, give up, and commence to complain in sex and relationships… to the point that negativity begins to rule your life. However, once negativity takes over, it begins to rule your thought processes, causing long-term effects that are often difficult to recover from. It can take many years and much effort to reverse a negative thought pattern. Moreover, negativity affects your physical health and it can affect your partner’s thoughts as well as sex and relationships. Even when life is throwing you one lemon after another, it is important to embrace a positive outlook. Doing so will substantially improve your ability to cope with your situation and will prevent adverse effects on your sex life and relationship.

Embracing Positivity

Even in the most difficult situations, you have to keep telling yourself that things will get better, and learn to be content despite negative circumstances. Complaining affects your brain, and it affects your partner’s brain, as mentioned on this blog in prior posts.

Difficult circumstances are bad enough without exacerbating and complicating them with a constant flow of mental and verbal negativity. Not only are you not helping yourself to effectively cope with and overcome your situation, you are not helping your partner to do so either. Negativity can result in mental exhaustion, irritability, disagreements, and a change in perspective that can interfere with sexual desire and can further harm or destroy relationships. In negative circumstances, you not only need to be able to build yourself up, but you also need to be uplifting to your partner, encouraging them to focus on the brighter side of things as well.

Case Example

A young woman in her early thirties was married for eight years. The relationship seemed happy at first, but as time went on, and things got tough, her spouse’s negativity drove a wedge between them. An intelligent woman, well educated in psychology, she appealed to him to embrace a more positive outlook, for both their sake. The stress and depression began affecting her physical health and she did not hesitate to inform her spouse about the effects his negativity was having on her. This only resulted in more negativity, and eventually, the marriage ended, mostly because she k new she could not continue living in such a negative environment. She felt helpless and hopeless, and no longer felt any love or sexual desire for the man. In her eyes, he was no longer a man; he was merely the personification of his negativity.

Today, this young woman is in a happy, loving relationship. Her health is better, and she has found this has much to do with her positive environment. It is not that the situation is the best. She works full-time, and her partner is unemployed. They have dealt with several difficult situations, but the difference is that her partner tries to maintain a positive outlook and encourages her to do so as well. And when she does get down and out, he makes every effort to be uplifting and encouraging.

This case example illustrates the importance of positivity in relationships. Love, intimacy, and sexual desire can be hindered or destroyed by negativity. Negativity is a selfish frame of mind. It not only affects you, but those who are around you all the time, especially your spouse or partner. The desire to remain with a partner is contingent on brain science. We all know that the heart is not where love and desire truly reside. Therefore, strong and lasting relationships are built on positivity, even in the most negative of situations.

 

Photo: Courtesy of photostock from Freedigitalphotos.net