Are these 10 Positive Emotions Part of Your Life?

Why Are Positive Emotions Important?

Yes, this may seem obvious, however I think it is important to identify. There are 2 main reasons why positive emotions are important –

  1. they open us up by changing the boundaries of our minds and hearts, and
  2. help us to change our outlook on our environments.

In the following clip, Dr Barbara Frederickson, who is a Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and one of the world’s leading researchers on emotional positivity, discusses this further.


What Are the 10 Positive Emotions?

In her research, Frederickson reveals the following 10 most common positive emotions. As you are read through the emotions, please remember they are highly individualised and depend on your own inner interpretation.

1. Joy –

Remember an experience that brought you joy? What were you doing? What were you experiencing? Maybe you received an unexpected birthday party from your family and friends and you felt bright and light? The colours around you were brighter, had an inner glow and felt playful.

2. Gratitude  –

Gratitude is a positive emotion that opens your heart and urges you to freely give back to others. Two definitions of gratitude are –

  • “a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation”
  • “Br. David Steindl-Rast,suggests that two qualities belong in our basic definition of gratitude. The first is appreciation: You recognize that something is valuable to you, which has nothing to do with its monetary worth. The second quality Br. David mentions is that gratitude is gratis: freely given to you.”

The movie Pay It Forward is a great example of gratitude in action. When was the last time you truly felt gratitude and shared it with the person?

3. Serenity –

Serenity requires little effort and is experienced when your environment is safe, familiar and supportive. According to Frederickson, serenity is a –

“mindful state that carries the urge to savour your current circumstances and find ways to integrate them into your life more and more often.” (p 42).

4. Interest –

When was the last time you were truly interested in exploring something new or deeper? This is interest and occurs when you build your skills. There are many ways you can learn and develop interest from learning a musical instrument to cooking or reading a book that awakens your mind to new horizons. What sparks your interest?

5. Hope –

According to Frederickson –

“Hope comes into play when your circumstances are dire – things are not going well for you, or there’s considerable uncertainty about how things will turn out.” ((p.43).

Hope often evolves from challenging experiences when instead of giving up, you look within to your own strengths, skills and capabilities to turn things around. When was the last time you experienced hope?

6. Pride –

Pride is the positive emotion we experience when we achieve something we value and was aiming for. For example – completing a home improvement project, a sporting result, making a sale or doing well at university or school. What makes you feel pride?

7. Amusement –

What makes you laugh by amusing you? Maybe it is a friend shares a funny joke or a family member shares about a cooking challenge you had. According to Frederickson,

“heartfelt amusement brings the irrepressible urge to laugh and share your joviality with others.” (p.43).

When was the last time you truly laughed with another person?

8. Inspiration –

What inspires you? When did you see something or someone doing an activity at its very best? Maybe it was Roger Federer playing tennis or you read a book that inspires possibility. Inspiration is a positive emotion that supports you to take action and express your own excellence.

9. Awe –

Frederickson says

“awe happens when you come across goodness on a grand scale. You literally feel overwhelmed by greatness.” (p.46).

Nature, music, dance or art are four areas that can trigger awe. Following is a clip that helps me experience awe, what about you?

10. Love –

Love is the feeling that encompasses the other 9 positive emotions. According to Frederickson,

“what transmits these other forms of positivity is their context.” (p.48).

When was the last time you felt love surge within you? What were you doing?


Over to You….

I hope this post has given you some insight in to the 10 positive emotions. How can you start cultivating the 10 positive emotions in your life? Remember – you can cultivate these emotions so you can move towards a life of flourishing and whole-heartedness.

If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?


Reference –

Fredrickson, B. L. (2009). Positivity: Top-Notch Research that Reveals the 3-to-1 Ratio that Will Change Your Life.. New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group.

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