Do Positive Emotions Make You Smarter?

Positive emotions help contribute to long-lasting personal growth and development. With Positive emotions, you broaden your thinking, reduce negative emotions, and enhance resiliency. This increase in positive emotions could lead to benefits for us physically but can these emotions also increase our intelligence?

In his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ, Daniel Goleman explored the intricate relationship between emotions and IQ.  Emotions combined with emotional intelligence help people develop a one/two punch for the workplace. This combination of coping skills is proving to be even more influential for advancement than IQ alone for many workplaces.

Positive emotions bring a cycle of positivity to you physically and mentally. This cycle offers your body the strength for building intelligence, whereas negative emotions do the opposite and hinder the body mentally and emotionally. Learning more about our emotions and how to influence them can, therefore, be extremely beneficial to our work life as well as our happiness.

What Are Positive Emotions?

Positive emotions can be any combination of emotions that bring peacefulness to one’s life. The specific emotions that may provide this level of relaxation will vary from person to person. When combined, these emotions can help individuals develop a more positive outlook on life which can increase intelligence.

Emotions that are most often associated with positive feelings include:

  • Joy
  • Gratitude
  • Hope
  • Inspiration
  • Love
  • Altruism
  • Satisfaction
  • Humor


This is not an exclusive list. You may also experience positive emotions when you feel relief or when you are in awe of someone as well as in many other situations. The specific emotions that enlist a positive emotional experience for you may be different than for others. Also, not all positive emotions will bring tranquility or peace. Excitement is often a positive emotion that is similarly associated with feeling good but not necessarily feeling peaceful.

Positive Emotions

Ways Positive Emotions are Good for You

Physically, positive emotions can change your overall health. An upward spiral dynamic is suspected as the coloration between positive emotions and health.  In a research study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, participant’s health was measured before training began in positive emotions. They used vagal tone to measure cardiovascular health and saw participants in the kindness meditation group showed improvements in vagal tone. Connection to others in the group also increased and contributed to positive emotions.

Positive emotions are not only good for your physical health but also for your mental wellbeing. Decreased sadness, anxiety, and feelings of doom can also be linked to the role that positive emotions play in our psychology. As an added benefit, individuals cognitive functioning increased when physical and emotional health increases. These aspects of positive emotions therefore will continue to be studied in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and businesses.

Emotions are a significant factor in cognitive processing. The brain’s attention has limited capacity. If negative emotions are enhanced then your brain is forced to use energy on those emotions. While positive emotions allow the brain to relax and provide additional energy to learning, modulating, and retaining information.

Emotional Intelligence

What is emotional intelligence? At first glance, this term may signify some combination of emotions and IQ but in reality, it is a complex way of managing emotions appropriately. Emotional awareness, understanding emotions, and regulating emotions all encompass emotional intelligence.

More and more research is being done on the role of emotional intelligence in workplace settings. A high IQ may give you the measure of intellectual functioning that is superior to others but a high emotional intelligence score will often contribute to more success in the workplace. A high level of emotional intelligence gives employees the ability to apply their thinking more effortlessly, work better in teams, and connect with their peers which is often more useful in workplace success.

At its core, emotional intelligence helps you integrate your positive emotions and outlook with your overall intelligence. It is a means for evaluating situations by more than numbers and looking at the whole picture. Someone with a high level of positive emotions may have the ability to release anger from difficult situations quicker, not blame others for mistakes and understand the need to delay response to stressful situations until a more thorough evaluation has been completed.

How to Successfully Increase Positive Emotions


Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson wrote in her book Positivity it is not necessary to first achieve your values and goals before having positive emotions. Instead, we need to work on being more positive in our emotions and then we can build the other areas of our life that are important to us.

Some easy ways to increase positive emotions and thinking in your life consist of:

  1. Meditation – There are a variety of forms of meditation that can be effective in increasing positive thoughts and emotions. Some people find incorporating mantra’s or positive sayings with their daily meditations helps to increase positive emotions even faster.
  2. Journaling – Through journaling, you can control your thoughts by focusing on the positive emotions you want to experience. A simple journaling exercise may include writing down three positive thoughts for every negative emotion. Tracking your daily mood and recognizing triggers in your life can more easily be evaluated with daily journaling.
  3. Physical Movement/Play – Take time out of your day to schedule physical movement. Do things that bring you joy, make you smile, or give you a general feeling of relaxation. Scheduling these tasks just as you would a meeting is important to your overall emotional health.

Positive brains have the energy to concentrate on intellectual endeavors. By learning to expand your mental and emotional energy on influences you have control over it is possible to spend less mental energy on negative emotions.

Acquiring more positive emotions is a process that helps in all aspects of the workplace as well as in schooling environments and your personal life. Positive emotions provide a long-term adaptation to self-growth. When you successfully progress to a positive emotional outlook your work, relationships, health, education, and overall life satisfaction increase.



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