How to use positive emotions in your Flourish Journal

How to use positive emotions in your Flourish Journal

One way to write yourself happy is to write on the top 10 positive emotions in your Flourish Journal. By writing on these emotions, you become more mindful of the small positive moments that already exist in your life and you feel inspired to create more positive moments, which ultimately makes you happier. We explore this idea in our online course: Flourish: Experiments in Happiness.

So, what are these positive emotions? In her book Positivity, Barbara Fredrickson outlines the top 10 emotions that make us feel good.

Joy. Joy feels bright and light. It is the feeling that makes us want to jump up, get involved, play, and experience moments fully. It generally manifests when things are going as planned or better than we imagined.

Gratitude. We feel gratitude when we experience something as a gift to be treasured. It is associated with joy and appreciation and opens our heart, awakening our desire to give back.

Serenity. This is the feeling we get when we sink into circumstances that feel comfortable and right (think of quietly reading your favourite novel curled on the sofa with a cup of tea). It requires little effort on our part and makes us want to savour the moment.

Interest. We feel interest when something draws our attention and we feel filled with a sense of possibility and mystery. We want to explore, discover more, and engage in new ideas. We feel alive and open to experience.

Amusement. Amusement occurs when something unexpected happens that makes us laugh. We usually want to share this feeling with others.

Hope. Hope comes into play when things aren’t going so well and when we are uncertain about how things will turn out; it stops us from falling into despair because it helps us to believe that things will get better (no matter how bad they currently are), and it allows us to tap into our strengths and capabilities. It inspires us to put plans in place for the future and energises us to take care of ourselves and others.

Pride. We feel pride following an achievement that we have invested our time and energy into. It makes us want to share our achievement with others, and it motivates us towards even greater achievements in the same arena.

Inspiration. We feel inspiration when we come across true human excellence. It is a transcendent emotion that pulls us out of ourselves. We feel inspired, see better possibilities, and want to express and do what is good.

Awe. Awe is another transcendent emotion, and occurs when we come across goodness (in nature or humanity) on a grand scale that stops us still and transfixed. We feel overwhelmed by greatness and small and humbled by comparison. We feel part of something much larger than ourselves, and our minds stretch and expand to accommodate what we have witnessed.

Love. Love is sparked when we feel any of the other positive feelings within a close relationship when we feel connected to others and are able to relate to them whole-heartedly. Love breaks down barriers and helps us to grow.

Using positive emotions in your Flourish Journal

Choose one of the 10 positive emotions and:

  1. Write about a time in your past that you felt this emotion. How did it feel in your body? What were you doing? Where were you? Who were you with?
  2. Notice if you experience this emotion over the next 24 hours and write about your experience. Describe it using concrete details as well as poetic techniques such as metaphor and simile.
  3. Write a poem about the emotion, describing it in detail. Use all 5 senses: what does it smell like, taste like, feel like, look like, sound like? What colour is it? Is it sharp or soft, energetic or still?
  4. Write about somebody you know or admire who embodies that emotion. How do they embody the emotion? How to they act, speak, or relate to others? How might you emulate them to bring more of that emotion into your own life?
  5. How do you already embody this emotion? Imagine a loved one has written a letter to you telling you how you embody this emotion for them. What would they say? Write that letter to yourself.


Create a graph using all 10 emotions similar to the one presented here to gain a better understanding of which of these emotions you might need more of in your daily life. The life depicted in the graph above looks a little short on awe, love, joy and gratitude, for example. Then brainstorm all the small and big ways you can incorporate more of these emotions into your life. Don’t limit yourself to ideas that seem sensible – just go wild, you never know what might inspire you.

For more ideas on how to incorporate positive emotions into your Flourish Journal join our online course: Flourish: Experiments in Happiness.

You might also be interested in our blog post: How to write about meaning in your Flourish Journal

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