chapter  21
6 Pages

Learning to self-generate positive emotions

ByBarBara L. FreDrickson

People’s daily lives can brim with emotional upsets. Unforeseen obstacles, incivilities, rebuffs, insults, and arguments abound. These and other upsets often ignite the pain of anger, anxiety, or sadness, with their attendant downward spirals and destructive behaviors. Although the link between negative events and negative emotions can seem automatic and altogether inescapable, people do have enormous choice in how they respond to the slings and arrows of daily life. What does it take for people to experience these and other upsets without inner turmoil or outer destructiveness? Is it possible? Indeed it is possible. What it takes is the ability to regulate attention and cognition in the service of self-generating inner states that are more open and optimistic-states that till the soil for positive emotions to take root, ranging from serenity and inspiration, to joy, gratitude, and more. This chapter, grounded in empirical evidence, outlines why these skills are important, and how they can be learned.