Appreciating the positive moments of daily life can boost overall life satisfaction and build resilience in the face of adversity, according to a study published in Emotion (2009; 9 (3), 361–68). A team of researchers led by Barbara Frederickson, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and principal investigator at the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory, designed a study to test whether positive emotions are associated with ego resilience, which in turn predicts more positive emotions. Ego resilience means an individual’s ability to adapt to changing environments by identifying opportunities, adapting to constraints or bouncing back from misfortune.

The study consisted of measuring the daily emotions of 86 students for 1 month. Life satisfaction and ego resilience were measured at the beginning and end of the month. Investigators used a computer to assess each student’s emotions and then evaluated these emotions’ relationship to the student’s general positive evaluation of his or her life. Frederickson said, “This study shows that if happiness is something you want out of life, then focusing daily on the small moments and cultivating positive emotions is the way to go. Those small moments let positive emotions blossom, and that helps us become more open. That openness then helps us build resources that can help us rebound better from adversity and stress, ward off depression and continue to grow” (; July 12, 2009).