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Positive psychology: emotions and creativity

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Positive psychology has created and regenerated diverse and uplifting new patterns of thoughtful human connection in the world. It has increasingly brought a more enjoyable and fulfilled nature to the lives of everyday human beings as well as those below the average line. As homo sapiens, we have an innate desire to belong and further flourish amongst others. We visualise and respectfully crave lasting relationships, both friendly and intimate that allow us to share our deepest emotions of mixed joys and discomforts. It is the human condition to find change a challenge both mentally and physically in an ever-adapting environment and world. Through understanding what mechanisms best suit your needs, it will enable you to strive through this adversity. Through exploring several theories linked to the key concept of emotions and creativity, we will see the pattern of change in human behaviour. When emotions are a vehicle in shifting our minds to our brightest and most resilient selves we will see how both science and intuition play different parts in the guiding process.

Positive psychology projects and instils all that it means to grow as a human. It has developed to allow you to understand there is no denial of negative thoughts and emotions alongside positive, as that is what being human pertains. Positive psychology aims to study the bright side of our lives; fostering joy, altruism, healthy lifestyles and mindsets that put us on a fulfilled, personal, and yet connected path  (Gable & Haidt, 2005). Dawkins expresses his view on science and intuition as he states, “Science has taught us many things against our intuition... Intuition shows an arrogance missing from science…. Where science is filled with doubt, scepticism, willingness to learn, openness to correction -- faith and intuition is exactly the opposite” (Dawkins, 2009). He paints the view that science and intuition play two extremely different roles in our internal worlds. It is upon ingesting and educating yourself with all that science has to offer surrounding positive psychology and then use your intuition to decide what parts of it suit your lifestyle and future best self; what resources you will use to thrive and adapt positively.

We then see the cross over between science and intuition playing out in real life as Seligman discusses his research of really happy people and how they differ from the rest of us. He comments, “ It turns out there's one way, very surprising -- they're not more religious, they're not in better shape, they don't have more money, they're not better looking, they don't have more good events and fewer bad events. The one way in which they differ: they're extremely social” (Seligman, 2004). They are continuously learning, creating and educating themselves. And then using their intuition in social contexts to converse, connect and adapt to each situation they are placed in, all whilst being quite emotionally positive. He continues to state the meaningful lives they lead by, “knowing what your highest strengths are, and using them to belong to and in the service of something larger than you are” (Seligman, 2004).

To develop as a human, community reliance can nourish, strengthen and protect your vulnerabilities in the face of internal emotional turmoil. Barbara Fredrickson discusses her ‘Broaden and build theory’ and outlines, “Most of our positive emotions do occur through our experience of connection with others” (Fredrickson, 2012). She continues to state that the research in the lab identifies that the rhythms of our hearts adapt and change beat in reaction to our bodies recent interactions of positive emotions. The more positive emotions felt, the stronger and more resilient their heart range. The theory of positive emotions discusses two primary roles positive emotions play in over overall health and body function - “they broaden our awareness, they literally expand our peripheral vision so that we can take in more information about the circumstances that we are in and over time that broadened awareness can accumulate and compound and help us build our resources for survival and wellbeing” (Fredrickson, 2012). We become more creative in the face of this theory. We see the world in a newly interpreted way and are open to divergent experiences. Bringing this positive mindset to your workplace allows the science to be put to practice as your intuition guides your creative journey and collaboration with colleagues whilst productivity further increasing and connection thriving.

Positive emotions and creativity work hand in hand and vice versa in delivering favourable outcomes. That is, building a positive environment sprouts creativity, and in turn, creativity fosters long term positivity and overall health and wellbeing (Sarah, 2018). Scientific evidence states, those who engage in creative work naturally have better general health. It is stated that people who work in above average creative fields indulge in health advantages “equal to being 6.7 years younger or having a household income 15 times greater” (Brooker, 2019, slide  3-9). A positive focus is discussed by Czikszentmihaly in his book “Creativity” and conveys the notion that ‘creative outlets can harness otherwise destructive energy.’ He continues, “The process of discovery involved in creating something new appears to be one of the most enjoyable activities any human can be involved in” (Sarah, 2018). We were made to create. To use our hands; our most powerful tool for communication and collaboration. To further reproduce and recreate. We have a switch in our brain that subconsciously guides the very notion science possesses, positivity breeds emotional stability. Social interaction kindles love, hope and strength. Connection creates productivity in all facets of life. Achor reaffirms this notion through his theory ‘the happiness advantage’ where an individuals level of positivity raised allows their brain to experience and perform significantly better than it does when negative neutral or stressed. During this process your intelligence increases, your creativity continues to flourish and your energy levels become contagious. You are 31% more productive when at positive as dopamine filtrates your brain and both makes you a lot happier but also “turns on all the learning centres in your brain- allowing you to adapt to the world in a different way” (Achor, 2011).

How we handle our inner emotions progresses everything. Resilience is how we face our biggest fears. Susan David highlights her journey through emotional courage in a new realm “Every aspect of how we love, how we live, how we parent and how we lead” ‘is driven by how we deal with our inner world’ (David, 2017). In order to remain mentally healthy, we must address all emotions. She states that research on emotional suppression highlights that upon shoving emotions aside or ignoring them, they become stronger. Psychologists have termed this amplification. Ms David expresses, “When we push aside normal emotions to embrace false positivity, we lose our capacity to develop skills to deal with the world as it is, not as we wish it to be” (David, 2017). It is through the natural process of being human that one really reaches a meaningful life. We should not fear what we so naturally feel. She continues, “Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life” (David, 2017) and when humans are enabled to feel their inner voices, engagement, creativity and innovation flourish in their environment. “Diversity isn’t just people, it’s also what’s inside people. Including a diversity of emotion… The most agile, resilient individuals, teams, organizations, families, communities are built on an openness to the normal human emotions” (David, 2017). The connection between humans is everywhere. To further emphasise this, a study was done on U.S college students in early 2001 and again the weeks following the September 11th terrorist attacks. Research showed that resilient people developed a coping mechanism of unlocking infectious positive emotions within themselves but also possessed further nurturing capabilities to elicit positive emotions in close friends and or family (Fredrickson, Tugade, Waugh & Larkin, 2003). It is the human condition to connect and protect others. To enable them to feel safe and loved. “If the positive psychology movement is successful in rebalancing psychology and expanding its gross academic product, it will become obsolete”  (Gable & Haidt, 2005). We have the power to guide our future into a positive state.

Through exploring several theories surrounding the key concept of emotions and creativity, we see the power science has in our everyday lives, to help guide our intuition to the right walk of life; to the right resources needed throughout our troubled times. A positive pathway that allows you to reach your fullest potential.

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Rebecca Wilson