Would success be as sweet without a few failures first? Many mindfulness pros believe that our trip-ups and frustrations actually help to create a context for peace and ease, whether in life, in love or at work.
We asked the lady bosses behind Career Contessa to dive into the topic of emodiversity – and why facing a little angst on the job might actually be a good thing for creativity, productivity and overall emotional intelligence…
Let’s start with a scene you probably know well: You’re technically at work, but you haven’t done any work since arriving. You’re feeling burnt out, distracted, frustrated — anything but happy and fulfilled. Maybe you’re also scrolling through Instagram looking at people whose lives seem so much happier. Maybe you’re questioning why you’re in this job at all.
All normal feelings, but ones we tend to fight against. Because most of us were raised hearing about ‘dream jobs’ and ‘following your heart,’ we often feel pressure to set happiness goals for our work and lives. And when our aspirations (work that doesn’t feel like work) don’t align with our reality (work that feels like busy work), we beat ourselves up.
Recent studies show that those bad feelings actually contribute to making you a more fulfilled human overall. The concept is called ‘emotional diversity’ (sometimes shortened to ‘emodiversity’) and it’s getting credit for bettering your quality of life, balancing your mental state and even reduced levels of inflammation.
Here’s how it works: ‘high emodiversity’ means that you vacillate between many emotions, experiencing everything from pure happiness to pure boredom throughout your day, while ‘low emodiversity’ applies to people whose moods — positive or negative — rarely vary. People who experience high emodiversity from day to day may actually achieve more emotional balance and fulfillment in life.
The idea of feeling constantly happy sounds great, but research shows that low emodiversity — even if it’s on the positive spectrum — might actually hurt us. A study of 35,000 people found that “people high in emodiversity were less likely to be depressed than people high in positive emotion alone.”
Research also shows that we may be less likely to get creative or innovate when happy. It makes sense — when you’re blissed out, the last thing you want to do is change things up. What’s more, if you’re open to feelings like anger, you gain more from the moments when you are happy (because it’s easier to appreciate an upswing when you know what a downswing feels like). When we pay attention to our full range of emotions, and what causes them – instead of focusing on how desperately we want to be happy – we actually learn more about ourselves.
And there’s an added perk to all of this: Once you’re in tune with your own reactions and triggers, you’re more likely to spot them in other people as well – a huge aspect of emotional intelligence. That ability makes you a better communicator, coworker, lover and general human, and it also means you’re more likely to get promoted (really). So go ahead, frown if you want to.
Find more tips for total work-life balance from Career Contessa here.