emotional range & happiness




With all we’ve been hearing about the value of positive emotions, it would seem that the cultivation of positive emotions can have a somewhat mediating (as well as a possible preventative) effect themselves on negative emotions–as one goes up, the other naturally enough goes down.

But as the field of Positive Psychology matures a more nuanced picture is emerging of how we might best increase and maintain our overall happiness, well-being and – as that field’s founding father Martin Seligman calls it – our flourishing.

For a newer generation of Positive Psychologists rather than trying to diminish or get rid of negative feelings, they’ve put forward the notion that true all-round happiness involves learning to open up to, and work wisely and skillfully with, the full range of the emotional spectrum – including with those we might call negative. This speaks to the notion of affect tolerance – affect being a psychologists word for emotion.

Below Psychologist Tod Kashdan, Professor of Psychology at George Mason University & one of the Gen 2.0, discusses this area.



Clearly to be able to work skillfully with our emotions it’s vital we’re first able to recognize them. This brings us bang up against the field of emotional intelligence and one of it’s most famous proponents is the psychologist and author Daniel Goldman. Goldman’s 1995 best seller Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more that IQ was an instant hit and has entered the lexicon of human development and optimization from living room to boardroom, forming a central plank of Google’s ground breaking leadership program Search Inside Yourself For Leaders.

Below we hear Goleman outline his views on Emotional Intelligence.


Goleman wrote in his original 1994 bestseller called Emotional Intelligence Why It Can Matter More Than IQ that:

“In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels”

And this is a statement we’ve dug into a little in module two on the body as it relates to the area of embodied cognition but in contemplating the benefit Goleman has gone on to state that a study on the impact of EQ interventions in business and leadership has shown that:

‘On average, close to 90 percent of their success in leadership was attributable to emotional intelligence.’

I would put forward the  notion that in some ways we are all leaders. Whether Moms, Dads, bosses or simply leaders of ourselves. And so the same benefits accrue whether you’re the CEO of a global multinational or the CEO of you!

One of the hot new areas in psychological research and intervention study is smack bang in this territory of how developing literacy of, or at least attuning to, the full spectrum of emotions relates to the creation of happiness and well-being. It has been, rather unsurprisingly, named emodiversity and studies have shown it to be linked with a wide variety of health benefits.

At left is a schematic representing prototypical respondents low and high in global emodiversity, respectively. Selected respondents have identical mean levels of positive (green) and negative (red) emotion—matching the sample means (Positive Emotion 1.89; Negative Emotion1.11)—but varied widely in emodiversity.

Also you might like to visit the Emodiversity Project to take their quick simple test and in doing so, if you so choose, you will also be able help out with research into this fascinating area at the same time.


Having simple, clear methodologies for categorizing our emotional ecosystem can also be very helpful–though the caveat is not to get too tied down with constant analysis! So to that end we’re including this valuable visual guide, or circumplex, to help with greater clarity on your own wide and varied emotional spectrum.