Throughout November we have explored many different aspects of Finding Joy and hopefully triggered your thoughts. What else can help you finding joy? Did you ever consider showing Positive Empathy as a path to finding joy? Or using Active Constructive Responding? Stay with me for a couple of more minutes and let us dig deeper into the two evidence-based methods. I am pretty sure it will help you finding joy.
Positive empathy is defined as understanding and vicariously sharing others’ positive emotions. (Morelli, Lieberman, Telzer, & Zaki). Imagining, recalling, observing, or learning of others’ positive outcomes can trigger positive empathy. You are showing positive empathy when you feel happy, excited, inspired when somebody else succeeds, or something good happens to someone. Positive empathy is other-focused and it is an altruistic motivation – a motivational state with the ultimate goal of increasing other’s positive emotions (Batson & Shaw, 1991)
Moreover, it can help you find joy because of your brain’s reward-related region like it when you show positive empathy, and key outcomes are increased well-being and social connection. Speaking of social connection, what’s not to like about relationship satisfaction, which of course, includes trust and closeness? Positive empathy significantly overlaps general positivity, and positive emotion promotes social bonding, making individuals more open to connecting and engaging with others (Fredrickson, 2001). We’re [almost] talking two-in-one here, a package deal.
Can you think of ways to practice other-focused positive empathy? What would you do?
With this in mind, let’s build on what we have learned and take a closer look at another way of finding joy? Active Constructive Responding, that is!
Active Constructive Responding
Try to recall when somebody genuinely took part in celebrating your accomplishments and achievements. What positive emotions did you feel? Did you feel their heartfelt feelings around you reaching your goal? It’s normal wanting those around us to participate in our celebrations and it really makes us feel seen and appreciated, doesn’t it? How do you respond to others when they have success?
Positive psychologist Shelly Gable developed a theory about how humans respond to positive news. In her theory, there are four ways of responding when a person shares good news with us. The only way of responding that builds stronger relationships is active constructive responding. Are you ready to learn how to implement active constructive responding into your daily lives to strengthen relationships?
Most importantly, to actively and constructively respond to someone, you should meet the person with enthusiasm, genuine interest, and positive emotion. And by the way, it extends to nonverbal communication, meaning it includes eye contact, smiles, and body language in general.
Let’s practice. Find a friend, family member, or coworker to practice with, and look for good news and do your best to respond with the Active Constructive response style. Go deeper by asking three follow-up questions while paying attention to your non-verbal communication, and without overdoing the praise and positive feedback.
As a result of the practice, ask yourself what you learned about yourself, the other person, and your take away from the interaction itself?
In conclusion I like to share a quote by John Joseph Powell:
“It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.”
I hope that you give the practice of positive empathy and active constructive responding a try. It can help you finding joy – inside out, and it can be a tremendous contribution to your community, and it is free.