Positive emotions.

A topic for the times! And rightly so, because today we can follow emotions in the brain by means of a procedure called an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging). Most of us know on a simple scale, what an MRI does. It gets under the skin in a way that X-Rays, CT scans can’t begin to. Tells us stuff about what is really happening inside. Now fast forward to fMRI’s, where my grump and my joy can be traced as it travels through my brain. Can you imagine how exciting the discoverers of this procedure were? Amazing.

The fMRI now provides valuable information on our emotions and coupled with quantitative research, supports the importance of emotions in an individual’s overall health and well-being.


I can talk till the sun sets about what 20 years of research have discovered thus far about gratitude. Before positive psychology, nobody paid much scientific attention to positive emotions. Barbara Fredrickson, the author of the Broaden-and Build Theory of Positive Emotions describes the opinion of positive emotions pre-scientific research, as being looked upon as secondary emotions. Gratitude simply wasn’t as compelling or important enough to study; especially when compared to such heavy hitters as rage and jealousy.

Positive Psychology and technology changed all that when in 1998, the newly elected American Psychological Association president, Martin Seligman introduced the idea of positive psychology; psychology that scientifically investigated the components of the ‘good life.  My mentor Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar calls positive psychology self-help backed by scientific research, and that term is what pulled me in. I wanted something that seriously would address my personal issues. And now 5 years later I can attest, without doubt gratitude is the most powerful emotion there is for permanent and positive change. But don’t take my word for it. Look at the benefits of keeping a simple gratitude journal!


That’s a lot of really good stuff! That’s a lot of stuff that makes for a good life . . .  a really good life. If I could gather gratitude up and get you into a bottle for $19.95, you’d be willing to give it a try, wouldn’t you? You might even get excited and talk to your friends about it too, right? Can you imagine “Hey, have you heard about this gratitude stuff, it’s like a miracle drug! I can get a two for one, you want one?” The excitement, the expectation of something that comes along that can do a ‘miracle’ – for only $19.95, right?

Think about this. This is not a scheme. This is not make-believe. This is a positive emotion that rocks any world that lets it in. It cannot do otherwise.


Stay tuned for upcoming blogs discussing Fredrickson’s Theory of positive emotions, sweet and simple, and how gratitude diffuses the side effects of negative emotions, and how you can use the positive emotion of gratitude to successfully guide your life.

Karen Schaal

Positive Online Psychology

#gratitude, #grateful4you, #positiveemotion, #positiveonlinepsychology


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