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Learning From Home


Experiments have shown that positive emotions can enhance our brain’s capabilities to process more information, organize new information, store that information longer, and retrieve it faster in the future. This happens because the visual cortex, the brain responsible for sight, is sensitive to emotions.


When we are in fight or flight, our attention narrows, and when we are feeling good, our attention widens and our brains are able to process more information.



Fredrickson, B. L., & Branigan, C. (2005). Positive emotions broaden the scope of attention and thought-action repertoires. Cognition and Emotion, 19, 313-332.


Schmitz, T. W., De Rosa, E., & Anderson, A. K. (2009). Opposing influences of affective state valence on visual cortical encoding. Journal of Neuroscience, 29, 7199-7207.


Studies have shown that when primed with positive emotions before a task, the individual performs the task faster, with less error, and more creatively. For example, doctors who were primed with positive thoughts not only performed the correct diagnosis 19% faster than the control group, they showed three times more intelligence and creativity in the process. Therefore, positive stimuli at work can and will help employees perform their work more efficiently.


Achor, S. (2010). The Happiness Advantage. New York: Crown Publishing Group, 15.


Master, J. C., Barden, R. C., & Ford, M. E. (1979). Affective states, expressive behavior, and learning in children. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 380-390.

Bryan, T., & Bryan, J. (1991). Positive mood and math performance. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 24, 490-494.

Doctor's Appointment


Positive emotions combat the negative effects of stress, through the release of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. They can also help you recover from the negative effects of stress faster because they help boost the immune system.

One study shows that happier individuals recover from sickness and illness faster than unhappy individuals. In this study, they measured individuals' happiness levels and then injected them with a cold virus. After one week, those who had measured a higher happiness level before not only felt better than the unhappy group, they also had fewer symptoms - coughing, sneezing, congestion, etc.


Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218-226.

Fredrickson, B. L., Mancuso, R. A., Branigan, C., & Tugade, M. M. (2000). The undoing effect of positive emotions, Motivation and Emotion. 24, 237-258.


Cohen, S., Doyle, W. J., Turner, R. B., Apher, C. M., & Skoner, D.P. (2003). Emotional style and susceptibility to the common cold. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65, 652-657.


Studies have shown that priming your mind with positive thoughts allows your brain to not only see more in your environment visually but also opportunistically. When we are happy, our brains process more, which allows us to see out-of-the-box solutions, spot opportunities, and more easily build upon the ideas of others.


Gallagher, W. (2009). Rapt. New York: Penguin, at 36.


Fredrickson, B. L. (1998). What good are positive emotions? Review of General Psychology, 2, 300-319.


Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218-226.


Having more positive thoughts and emotions on a daily basis can actually lengthen one's life, improve health, and in turn improve quality of life.

A clever group of researchers decided to study the journal entries of catholic nuns when they were in their 20s, all born before 1917. This longitudinal study revealed that the nuns who had more positive content in their journals ended up living nearly 10 years longer than those who with more negative or neutral entries.  


Danner, D., Snowdon, D., & Friesen, W. (2001). Positive emotions in early life and longevity.: Findings from the nun study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 804-813.

Brain Enhancement

Positive stimuli such as positive thoughts, a nice compliment, or a gift have all been shown to improve brain function and its corresponding capabilities. One study has found that those positively stimulated before business negotiation had better results than the control group. Students who thought about the happiest day of their lives before a test got higher test scores than their counterparts, and those engaging in complex analysis showed greater skill at the task who had also been positively primed.

Another benefit of positive emotions is that it reduces anchoring bias which leads to more accurate decision-making. 


"Optimistic salespeople outsell their pessimistic counterparts by 56 percent" (Achor, 15).


Achor, S. (2010). The Happiness Advantage. New York: Crown Publishing Group.


Estrada, C. A., Isen, A. M., & Young, M. J. (1997). Positive affect facilitates integration of information and decreases anchoring in reasoning among physicians. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 72, 117-135.

Kopelman, S., Rosette, A. S., & Thompson, L. (2006). The three faces of Eve: Strategic displays of positive, negative, and neutral emotions in negotiations. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 99, 81-101.

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