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Emotion. 2009 Jun;9(3):361-8. doi: 10.1037/a0015952.

Happiness unpacked: positive emotions increase life satisfaction by building resilience.

Author information

  • 1School of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, USA. cohnm@ocim.ucsf.edu

Abstract

Happiness-a composite of life satisfaction, coping resources, and positive emotions-predicts desirable life outcomes in many domains. The broaden-and-build theory suggests that this is because positive emotions help people build lasting resources. To test this hypothesis, the authors measured emotions daily for 1 month in a sample of students (N = 86) and assessed life satisfaction and trait resilience at the beginning and end of the month. Positive emotions predicted increases in both resilience and life satisfaction. Negative emotions had weak or null effects and did not interfere with the benefits of positive emotions. Positive emotions also mediated the relation between baseline and final resilience, but life satisfaction did not. This suggests that it is in-the-moment positive emotions, and not more general positive evaluations of one's life, that form the link between happiness and desirable life outcomes. Change in resilience mediated the relation between positive emotions and increased life satisfaction, suggesting that happy people become more satisfied not simply because they feel better but because they develop resources for living well.

PMID:
19485613
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3126102
Free PMC Article

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