The Top 10 Positive Emotions
A major part of learning to deal with our feelings is being able to label and identify our emotions. It can be difficult to connect with our emotional state if we don’t have awareness about the feelings we’re having.
There are vast emotional states outside of just mad, glad, sad, surprised, and afraid, and being able to put a name to these feelings can help us recognize their occurrence.
Psychologists Barbara Fredrickson, in her book Positivity, explains the 10 most common positive emotions. This list has been the focus of much research and have been found to shape peoples’ lives most often. Hopefully, you’ll be able to stumble upon them more often by noticing when and how they color your experience.
Joy – Think of the most positive and memorable experience you’ve had. A time when you felt safe, happy, and comfortable. This was probably a moment where you experienced joy. Joy comes from delightful and cherished experiences, and raises our well-being where we feel light and vibrant.
Gratitude – This entails an emotion or attitude of appreciation where we acknowledge some benefit we have received. Gratitude can revolve around anything you feel great appreciation for, and occurs during the times when you feel thankful for someone or something in your life.
Serenity – This emotion comes along when things are going just right. You may experience a state of peacefulness and tranquility. Your mind isn’t flooded with worries, and you’re able to just sit back and relax. Serenity comes from those moments of stillness and calm where you can just “be” in the present moment.
Interest – I’m always wanting to learn more and uncover new fascinating things, so this is an important emotion for me. Interest comes from being curious or engaged in something. It’s a state of intrigue and wonder, where you want to know more and are pulled toward an object of interest. When feeling interested, you are more open to new experiences and have a desire to explore the world around you.
Hope – This is a belief and feeling that things will turn out for the best. It’s knowing our current problems aren’t permanent and that the future is still promising despite tough circumstances. A hopeful person will believe that what they want will be obtained, and no matter how dire the circumstances they have faith that things will turn around and they will be able to do something about their situation.
Pride – This comes from feeling dignified and important in what we do or have accomplished. It’s not about having an overwhelming sense of self-satisfaction, but having accomplished something that is socially valued and feeling proud about this. It may come along from a sense of purpose and meaning in our accomplishments, and offers an increase in confidence to expand the belief in our potential to do greater things.
Amusement – Whenever we experience fun, humorous, and playful situations with others we are being amused. We can get amusement from laughing with others at a funny joke, watching a puppy frolic, or playing a fun game or activity. Amusement helps us build connections with others.
Inspiration – This comes from experiencing a very moving and emotionally uplifting experience, such as those times in life when we see true goodness or where someone goes above and beyond the ordinary. Amazing feats of intellect, strength, and agility can lead to inspiration. A moment of inspiration draws us in and really stands out as an instant of excellence.
Awe – The notion of being awestruck comes from feeling wonder and reverence toward something extremely powerful and admired. Fredrickson points out this may come from experiencing natural phenomenon, such as the grand canyon, a beautiful sunset, or the crashing of ocean waves. It can also come from amazing creations of art or highly impressive developments. These are the moments when we realize how small and ordinary we really are compared to the vastness of the world around us.
Love – Love is the compilation of all of the above emotions. In general, love is related to a feeling of strong affection and personal attachment, where we have a very positive feeling of connection toward another person. This feeling may be enhanced from watching someone achieve an amazing feat, laughing and having fun together, or from kind and selflessness act they commit. Love is an amalgamation of all the emotional states coming together throughout our life.
Hopefully this list helps you consider the wide range of positive emotions you can experience everyday. A large part of experiencing these emotions is choosing to do so. Begin making a choice to be open-minded and letting in moments of inspiration, joy, and interest, while working to cultivate hope for the future and gratitude for the present.
Photo credit: Vivian Chen
Wilner, J. (2011). The Top 10 Positive Emotions. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 30, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/positive-psychology/2011/03/the-top-10-positive-emotions/