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The power of positive emotions

Emotions are signals for action. They are like the body’s instant messaging service, helping us to understand our environment and how we should respond.

The findings from a burgeoning area of psychological research are compelling. Happiness can predict resistance to cold and flu, improved problem-solving, better memory, more creativity, and stronger relationships. But its application to our careers and workplaces is in its infancy.

Barbara Fredrickson’s Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory has shown that positive emotions move us to process information certain ways.

Broadening

In the moment, positive emotions broaden our focus of attention so we are more flexible, more creative and better at building relationships. For example, joy and interest encourage people to play, explore and learn. A sense of pride helps us to dream big, motivating us to achieve.

Building

Over time, moments of positive emotion accumulate to build our confidence, our self-esteem and our resilience. These resources help us adapt to new situations and challenges.

Undoing

Positive emotions also undo the effects of negative emotions, reducing stress and its physiological effect – raised heart rate and blood pressure – on our bodies.

These discoveries challenge the way we think about work and our careers. Happiness does not follow success - happiness drives success.

At Friday we see happiness data as a form of intelligence that individuals and organizations can use to make better decisions. If positive emotions evolved in us to help us register the people, places and activities that signify good prospects, then let’s set about designing our working lives so they more reliably lead to happiness … and our individual and collective success!