Affective Realism

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The power of emotion plays a large part in our daily lives. How we feel at a given moment can impact our ability to think, reason and act. Emotions in this way tend to hijack our direction and momentum. They can quickly push us into productive action just as quickly as they can derail us from all of our progress.

According to Lisa Feldman Barrett in her TED Talk, Cultivating Wisdom: The Power Of Mood, “feeling is believing”. Your brain is naturally wired to adjust its perspective based on your mood. In turn, you come to believe what you feel. This concept is known as Affective Realism.

In this way, there’s a thin line between how we think and how we feel. Sometimes it’s more apparent that our emotions dictate our thoughts. Like when we’ve been wronged, let down, or made a failed attempt at something meaningful. Other times, our thoughts seem stronger and we allow them to dictate our emotions—like when we’ve decided not to let something get to us, or rebound quickly from failure by trying again. Whichever way you tend to lean in preference moment to moment, the two are interlinked and play harmoniously off one another. That’s why positive thinking matched with positive emotions can make you feel ready to conquer the world. Inversely, when negative thinking aligns with negative emotions, the combination can be disharmonious and destructive.

The premise of positive psychology is built upon these foundations and is a key capability in developing resiliency. This ability to recover from difficulty is the true measure of stamina and staying power in times of increased stress. Resilience is a purposeful act that includes addressing the mood you’re in to adjust the thinking you need for the moment. When ambiguity makes the future a bit cloudy—practicing positive thinking is sometimes the best option.

Wherever your mind and your mood are at right now, try adopting an optimist’s attitude to take on the rest of the day with a resilient, positive mindset.

“ Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most. ”
— Buddha

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