Positive Emotions = The Perfect Brain Food

This article featured in Heart Math highlights the importance of keeping positive emotions present in your life.  They not only improve your sense of wellbeing, but they also improve your cognitive skills as well.  As parents of children with learning problems, it is very important to build their self esteem by finding activities that they enjoy or excel at and encourage them to pursue those activities.  Celebrate all of their accomplishments, however minor, and always remember that they are looking up to you for guidance and approval.

We spend a lot of time in this column helping people understand the relationship between emotions and health and performance. In fact, you could say emotions are our business! Some people, however, are quick to conclude that emotional management is not a business skill. After all, the workplace is no place for all this ’emotional’ stuff.

Not! The fact is the workplace and just about all places we humans gather are filled with emotions. Emotions bring texture to our lives and are an important aspect of being human. Our ability to feel emotions separates us from reptiles and snakes. Our ability to choose them separates us from cats and dogs.

The trouble is it’s easy to over indulge in the unhealthy kind: Those emotions we typically call ‘negative’ or ‘stressful’ that can compromise our health, performance and over-all sense of well-being. Just think about it: How quick are we to express our anger, anxiety or frustration about a new company policy, too many emails or a co worker? Compare that to how reticent we are to express care, compassion or kindness for fear (another emotion!) of being seen as too soft or unprofessional. What’s wrong with this diet?

People and organizations are literally starving for more of the positive stuff: Appreciation for someone’s talents or care for a teammate or compassion for a colleague or a passion for excellence.

I know you know how good you feel when you perform well. But did you know you work better when you feel good? That’s because positive emotions act like brain food: When we sincerely feel one, we create a physiological state called coherence that has been shown to improve cognitive performance1:

  • 40% improvement in long-term memory
  • 24% improvement in short-term memory
  • Increased ability to focus
  • Increased ability to process information
  • Increased reaction times
  • Higher test scores

Nourish yourself. Fill your plate with positive emotions. Eat them up. Pass them around. You are what you feel.

Take care,
Kim Allen

1 – TENDS, ADHD, PTSD and auditory discrimination studies published in the July 2010 issue of Alternative Therapies.



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