Quick Take: The Benefits of Positive Emotions, and How to Create Them

Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell offers ways to maintain a healthy outlook, even when life is complicated.

Quick Take with Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell

By Alicia Banks

Published January 31, 2023, last updated on February 2, 2023 under Commentary

With all the stresses of living through a pandemic, many people have found it a struggle at times in the past few years to keep from being overwhelmed by negative emotions. But Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, a research professor at the Duke Global Health Institute, says maintaining a positive mindset is usually possible, even in our current circumstances.

Proeschold-Bell focuses her research on the impact of positive emotions on physical and mental health. She has recently led studies of mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques for clergy and helped create a peer-led family support program to help North Carolina communities cope with stress during pandemic lockdowns.

“We’re biologically hard-wired to focus on what is going wrong and feel unpleasant emotions,” she says in a DGHI Quick Take interview on how to maintain a positive outlook. “For coping with unpleasant emotions, I suggest gratitude and staying in the present moment.”

In the video, Proeschold-Bell offers three ways to create positive emotions to help with feeling overwhelmed, provide balance and achieve a better sense of self. Though not a replacement for therapy and other mental health interventions, these tips offer a simple practice for dealing with stressful situations and staying focused on maintaining a healthy attitude.