“Success is creating a state of mind that allows you to obtain anything you really desire.”
Mark Victor Hansen
This post is a companion piece to How To Overcome Negative Emotions To Empower Your Life.
There are so many nice things to say about positive emotions. It has the ability to influence your brain to boost your awareness, attention, and memory. It will also improve your mental, social, and physical capacities.
Positive emotions can help you counteract the harmful effects of negative emotions, such as increases in heart rate and blood pressure.
People that experience a lot of good emotions in their daily lives are happier, healthier, learn faster, and get along with others better.
Psychologist Barbara Frederickson suggests that positive emotions broaden your awareness and encourage a more expansive and thoughtful approach to life. The ten most commonly experienced and researched positive emotions are joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and love.
Widely known for her groundbreaking “Broaden-and-Build” theory*, she proposed that positive emotions can help you build resources to cope with negative emotions and increase your resilience in the face of adversity.
According to Frederickson, accumulating “micro-moments of positivity” can, over time, result in greater overall well-being. So how do you foster positive emotions? How do you maintain a positive state of mind so that you can continue to attract good things into your life?
Consider how wonderful it would be if you had a “switch” that you could simply activate to activate a positive emotion that would empower you whenever you needed to access a specific feeling or emotion.
* The Broaden-and-Build theory in positive psychology suggests that positive emotions (such as happiness, and perhaps interest and anticipation) broaden one’s awareness and encourage novel, exploratory thoughts and actions. Over time, this broadened behavioral repertoire builds useful skills and psychological resources. (Source: Wikipedia)
Well, there is a technique that you use to generate positive emotions at will. Anchoring is a technique that comes from the discipline of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)** that allows you to create an internal experience out of a specific external event.
Let me specify what is meant by an internal experience and external event.
If the aroma of a certain dish transport you to a backyard barbecue with your family two summers ago, the feelings evoked by the memory of the barbecue is the internal experience and the barbecue itself is the specific external event.
Anchors can use one or more of your five senses: sight, touch, smell, taste, and sound to trigger memories and sensations from your past. This is due to the fact that the same part of the brain that processes sensory information is also responsible for storing emotional memories.
Do you ever experience a surge of pleasant memories whenever you hear a certain song on the radio? That auditory information brings forth some emotions that are attached to that song.
An anchor is an external stimulus that causes an internal response. In short, anchoring is simply the act of linking an external stimulus with an internal experience (your desired mental state).
** NLP is a psychological technique for influencing your brain’s (Neuro) processing of the words you use (Linguistic) and how that impacts your past, present, and future (Programming).
You are naturally curious as a child. If you’ve kept your curiosity alive, you’re probably interested in learning how anchors might elicit positive emotions.
Well, the digestive process has nothing to do with classical conditioning. But it was this research on dog salivation in response to being fed that led to the discovery of the classical conditioning theory.
An anchor is an external stimulus that causes an internal response. During his experiment, Pavlov identified that when the dog saw food, it began to salivate. The food is the external stimulus that causes a response in the dog (salivating).
Then, he introduced a new stimulus. Each time he served food to the dog; he rang a bell. After a few repetitions of this feeding cycle, the dog would salivate anytime he rang the bell, even if there was no food available.
The bell became an anchor that caused the dog to respond by salivating. The dog was conditioned to respond to the ringing of the bell.
The bell ringing (stimulus A) precedes the feeding (stimulus B), causing the dog to salivate (response). Without stimulus B (feeding), stimulus A (ringing of the bell) can eventually induce the reaction (dog salivating).
Every single day, there are a myriad of emotions being embedded in your subconscious mind. The information you gather from the outside world with your five senses eventually becomes your long-term memory, complete with emotions.
You use anchors to ignite positive emotions in you. When you are charged with these emotions, you are in a ‘resourceful’ state. This is a state of mind where you are full of confidence, energy and productivity.
As simple as just clenching your fist, touching your earlobes or listening to a tune, you can experience a feeling of empowerment, calmness or confidence. In short, you have the ability to choose any positive emotions you want and let those emotions elevate your life to a higher level.
Are you ready to employ this anchoring technique to help you quickly access resources, feelings, and states to give you the positive emotions you need?
In five quick and easy steps, you will be able to instantly install and activate positive emotions. This technique will assist you in creating a link between a positive emotion and a peak state.
This approach includes a ‘switch’ that gives you full access to activating that positive emotion whenever you need to. And it will only take 10 minutes.
1. Decide on a positive emotion that you want to work with. If you find it hard to decide, just refer to the ten common positive emotions listed above. For the purpose of this exercise, let’s use the emotion of joy.
In order for this technique to be effective, you need to focus on the positive. Avoid dwelling on the negative. Choose to be happy instead of not being sad. Instead of “I don’t want to feel demotivated,” choose instead to be “I want to be inspired.”
2. Recall a time in your life when you felt real joy. Relax and allow your mind to access an event in your life where you felt genuinely happy. Perhaps you might want to close your eyes when you do this.
Involve as many of your senses as you can. What can you see during this happy time? Recall the sights and sounds as vividly as possible.
3. Now, to establish a “switch,” choose a unique hand gesture. For example, squeeze your left earlobe lightly or link your thumb and forefinger together and squeeze lightly. Make sure it’s not a habitually repeated action or gesture.
4. Immerse yourself in your memory. Try to re-live the memory as if you have been projected back into the past. Remember what you saw, heard, and felt in your joyful event/memory.
As soon as you are able to feel the same joy as the memory that you are currently re-living, “install” the switch. If you have chosen to link your thumb and forefinger together as your switch, perform this gesture now.
As the feeling of joy increases, press the two fingers tightly together and release them when that feeling begins to dwindle.
5. Now let’s test if the anchor works. Before you can do that, you need to break the state you were in. To do this, try standing up and stretching your body a little.
Link your thumb and forefinger together and press them together in exactly the same way as you did earlier. If you are able to feel the same joyful emotion as before, it means that you have successfully installed and fired (launched) the anchor.
You’ve just experienced how it feels to re-live a joyful moment, established an anchor, and fired the anchor from the exercise above. There are a few crucial elements to remember in order for your anchors to work properly.
Always employ a strong and intense state of mind when you create your anchor. When anchors are associated with strong emotions or states of mind, they are known to work better during the anchoring process.
In step 4 above, install the anchor at the peak of your experience. You may need to repeat the process a few times to guarantee that the anchor is applied when the experience’s intensity is at its peak. And, if necessary, repeat the exercise from time to time to ensure that your anchor’s intensity does not wane with time.
Remember to utilize a unique anchor, or gesture, when choosing your trigger (switch) for the anchor. You can prevent accidentally activating the anchor if it isn’t a typical gesture that you do every day (for example, the “thumbs up” or “OK” gesture).
When you choose an experience from your past memory that you wish to anchor, select one where you were NOT feeling another emotion at the same time. If you are installing a confidence anchor, choose a time in your life where you felt confident.
Ensure that you are able to precisely repeat the stimulus you have chosen. You must be able to replicate the trigger to fire your anchor in exactly the same way every time you use it.
If your selected stimulus is pressing your thumb and index finger together, you must be able to touch in the exact same area at the exact same speed, frequency, duration, and pressure every time.
Many anchors already exist within you, whether you are aware of them or not. Whether it’s a physiological, emotional, or behavioral response, your daily life is full of triggers that generate automatic responses.
What is your automatic reaction when you come to a traffic light that has turned red? When you see a red traffic light, whether you are a motorist or a pedestrian, you are conditioned to stop. When the lights turn green, you will either drive or continue walking. This is a classic case of a conditioned response.
Fragrance has the potential to be a powerful anchor. Pine may conjure recollections of decorating your Christmas tree, travelling home for the holidays, and wonderful Christmas memories with friends and family.
Another conditioned response would be to wave back at someone you know who has just waved at you. Alternatively, you could smile back at someone who has just smiled at you.
Positive emotions accomplish more than making us feel good in the moment. Wouldn’t it be good to be able to trigger these emotions at will? Especially during challenging times when the weight of the world seems to be on your shoulders.
You need positive emotions to help you create the upward spiral toward improved emotional well-being. On a physical level, positive emotions boost our immune systems, improve cardiovascular health, and improve cognitive function.
In line with Fredrickson’s “broaden and build”* hypothesis, positive emotions extend your perception of possibilities and open your mind, allowing you to acquire new talents and resources that can be useful in other aspects of your life.
So, what can you do to increase the positive emotions within you? Perhaps installing those anchors would help enhance your positive thoughts and expand the “broaden and build” theory in your life.
When you fill yourself with positive emotions, you are sending positive thought vibrations out into the universe. Your positive vibrations will disperse to locate frequencies that are compatible with them.
As a result, positive people, things, and events will come into your life.