37 Positive Emotions That Make You Healthier and Happier

All emotions have their appropriate place and time, but positive emotions are the ones most of us prefer to have more frequently, with maybe a light scattering of negative ones to prove we’re still human.

And yet, we often find ways to make ourselves miserable, and then we wonder why we catch every bug that’s going around.

It’s no longer a leap to see the connection between our emotions and our physical (as well as mental) health. In essence, the more time we spend with positive emotions that are in congruence with our core truth, the healthier we are.

And because what we feel is tied to what we believe and to the words we use to express those beliefs, we can make more room for positive feelings by eliminating the beliefs and the language that are hostile to them.

First, though, we need to know what emotions are and why they’re so powerful.

What are emotions?

Generally speaking, an emotion is a felt response to something that affects you in some way. Depending on whom you ask, emotions can either be an involuntary response to something (like a reflex) or a chosen response (like a judgment).

However you see them, the emotions you feel have a profound effect on every aspect of your life, from your relationships to the quality of your work to your longevity and overall health.

As much as we usually enjoy positive emotions more than negative ones, though, we actually need both.

Why we need positive emotions.

Take a look at some of the benefits of positive emotions:

  • Better health and productivity
  • Stronger relationships
  • More effective coping strategies and greater resilience
  • Protection against cognitive decline
  • Better productivity and more effective work
  • More effective leadership and enhanced job performance
  • A greater feeling of connectedness to others

Taking the time to cultivate and to mindfully enjoy positive emotions helps us to grow and makes us better able to contribute to the happiness of others.

Positive Emotions List

You can no doubt think of more, but let’s consider the following 37 positive emotions.

As you go down the positive emotions list, take a moment to think of a time when you felt each one.

Visualize that moment and try to feel its corresponding emotion with the same intensity. Don’t be surprised if you remember other, less positive emotions associated with the same memories.

Sometimes anger is the prelude to triumph. Sometimes sadness leads us to a moment of awe and admiration. And guilt can make us eager to become better examples to others.

friends dancing, positive emotions

Sometimes that very guilt and shame we feel can make it easier to forgive others the hurt they’ve caused us.

There’s power in knowing that the context (which includes your response to it) rather than the feeling itself is what makes it either beneficial or harmful. See if you can find proof of this as you go through your own memories of each positive emotion in this list.

1. Admiration

Think of this as approval with a dash of awe — often with respect to a person you look up to.

2. Affection

This is a warm feeling directed toward someone (or a pet) whose company you enjoy.

3. Attraction

Ever felt a strong inner pull toward something or toward another person?

4. Altruism

This is the feeling you get when you do something good for someone else. It can also be an overwhelming desire to show generosity to others without expecting a return.

5. Amusement

You get this feeling when something takes you by surprise and makes you laugh or when you find yourself pleasantly distracted by something.

6. Awe

Think of admiration or gratitude with a touch of reverence.

7. Bold and Daring

Have you ever felt a fearless or fear-defying readiness to step (or ask) beyond your comfort zone?

8. Blissful

Imagine a state of intense or increased satisfaction or contentment.

9. Cheerfulness

This is what you feel when you’re noticeably happy and upbeat. You might just think of it as “being in a good mood.”

10. Compassion

Imagine feeling a strong sympathy and concern for the sufferings of others.

11. Confidence

Think of this as a feeling of calm trust in your abilities or qualities — or a certainty that something is true.

12. Contentment

When you feel content, you’re genuinely happy and satisfied with your current state of reality.

13. Eagerness

Have you ever felt a passionate readiness to do or experience something?

14. Elevation

This is the feeling you get when you see someone go above and beyond the normal level of kindness, generosity, and compassion.

15. Empowerment

To feel this is to feel endowed with the power to do something (or anything).

16. Enjoyment and Delight

Think of how you feel when you take pleasure in something or find joy in it.

17. Enthusiasm

Imagine yourself feeling an energetic and optimistic interest in something.

happy couple, positive emotions

18. Euphoria

To feel euphoric is to feel an intense, giddy happiness or elation.

19. Excitement

This is a state of agitated and optimistic anticipation — often in regards to something that’s about to happen or something you want to do.

20. Freedom

Imagine a strong feeling of self-determination or of having just been liberated from a type of slavery.

21. Forgiveness

The power of this emotion is in its readiness to let go of any ill will toward someone who has hurt you and to want only good for them instead.

22. Gratitude

The power of gratitude is in its readiness to show thankfulness for something or for all the goodness in your life.

23. Goodwill

Imagine the feeling of wanting only good things for someone and wanting a good life for that person, regardless of whether the feeling is mutual.

24. Hopefulness

Hope is more often associated with faith or trust than with arbitrarily choosing to expect everything to turn out well. It goes beyond mere optimism to embrace and hold onto a promise of ultimate happiness.

25. Happiness

Genuine happiness is a feeling of intense and unshakable well-being regarding your current state of reality.

26. Inspiration

Think of when you’ve felt mentally stimulated to do or to create something.

27. Interest

Imagine the feeling of wanting to know more about something or someone that has caught your attention.

28. Joyfulness

When you feel this intense delight or happiness, it’s often because of something that has happened or because of something someone did.

29. Love

The emotion of love is a feeling of profound affection for someone and an intense desire to serve that person’s best interest. It can also include a desire for a closer relationship.

happy woman, positive emotions

30. Optimism

When you feel optimistic, you have confidence that things will work out to your advantage and/or to someone else’s.

31. Pride

Imagine feeling a deep satisfaction in the accomplishment of something or a strong appreciation for your own worth or dignity.

32. Revelation

Think of a moment when you suddenly realized a profound and life-changing truth (an epiphany).

33. Satisfaction

Satisfaction implies both gratification and approval with regard to an experience or an occurrence.

34. Serenity

Have you ever felt an unshakable calm or tranquility irrespective of your circumstances?

35. Surprise (the good kind)

Think of surprise as a feeling of pleasant astonishment or stunned satisfaction over a sudden or an unexpected experience or occurrence.

36. Triumph

Remember the feeling of having achieved a great victory or of having prevailed over a challenge.

37. Worthiness

To feel worthy is to feel good enough and deserving of something good.

BONUS: Why Negative emotions serve a purpose too.

Happy positive emotions aren’t the only ones that make life worth living.

Nobody wants to feel negative emotions all the time, but their negativity doesn’t make them “bad.”

Fear can actually save your life, and anxiety and discontent can both motivate you to change things or get things done. It’s when those emotions stay with you long after you need them that you have problems, like these:

  • Emotional eating and its consequent health problems
  • Chronic pain and inflammation
  • Difficulty sleeping and chronic fatigue
  • Problems with digestion and elimination
  • Depression and hopelessness
  • Tightness in the chest, tachycardia, arrhythmia

It can also be a problem if the emotions themselves are more intense than you need them to be to get yourself out of a bad situation. Fear can heighten your awareness and motivate you to take necessary action (fight or flight); too much fear, though, can paralyze you.

But negative emotions can be appropriate and even beneficial under the right circumstances.

Maybe you can think of a time when you needed a negative emotion like anger to get out of a job or a relationship that was harmful to you.

Only after you did what anger helped you to do were you then able to enjoy the positive emotions that came afterward.

Observe Your Feelings And Emotions

Sometimes, the words we use to express what we believe aren’t compatible with feelings of worthiness, self-confidence, or personal pride.

But when a negative emotion like discontent or anger becomes stronger than your feelings of shame and unworthiness, it can be the trumpet blast that leads the charge and heralds a change in your beliefs.

It can begin by asking questions:

  • Is this belief based on the truth or on what I’ve been conditioned to believe?
  • Is this belief helping me become the person I want to be?
  • Does this belief make me feel more — or less — connected to others?

And once you’ve replaced outdated and harmful beliefs with more empowering ones, discontent can yield its place to positive emotions like gratitude, hope, and joy.

Understanding Good Emotions

Good emotions are those that are consistent with the truth; they represent an appropriate response to the way things are — inside and out.

But while your subconscious knows the difference between real and fake emotions (and your body will reflect what it knows), you can make more room for positive emotions even before you’ve rejected all the beliefs that hold you back.

For one, you can practice being more grateful. You can spend more time enjoying and taking delight in the good things you have. And you can forgive others, even when it’s not the first response that comes to mind when you think of them. Forgive them for your own sake, so you can replace that stubborn and painful resentment with serenity and goodwill.

Good emotions — both positive and negative — can work together to help you put your house in order. What will you start with today?

Want a free download of the complete list of positive emotions?

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I hope this article has helped clarify the role of emotions — both positive and negative — in your life and in the lives of those close to you.

Whatever kind of day you’re having, remember that the words you use to express what you believe and what you feel about something impacts everything you do.

You don’t have to use positive feeling words all the time, either. Sometimes, it makes more sense to acknowledge a negative emotion and give it its due — as long as it doesn’t stick around longer than you need it.

If you’ve found value in this article, I hope you’ll share it with others and encourage them to pass it on. The more we share what has helped us grow, the more we contribute to the growth of others. It’s a win-win.

Keep on winning.

Barrie Davenport

Barrie is a certified life coach and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She has been a featured writer for The Huffington Post, Maria Shriver, and Zen Habits. She is the creator of six popular self-improvement courses. She writes books on relationship skills, emotional abuse, mindfulness, and more.

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