Jan 242010

Source: “Authentic Happiness,” Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D., Chapter 3

We are endowed with access to powerful and insistent emotional states. They arise from the deepest and most primitive areas of our brain. They include more than fight or flight survival instincts to take decisive action to kill or conserve; they include the capacity for happiness. Happiness must serve an important, fundamental purpose.

Negative emotions include fear, sadness, discussed, repulsion, hatred and anger. They are especially important in win-lose situations, where the loser may be oneself. Effective responses to negative emotions affect survival and would reasonably be an important part of natural selection. The likelihood that a person will present predominantly negative or positive emotions it is, in fact strongly affected by genetic inheritance.

Positive feelings encourage us to approach an object or develop a situation. But, negative and positive emotions are much more complex than the stimulus attraction and avoidance processes of bacteria. Until recently, psychologists have generally ignored positive emotions. They were interpreted as secondary effects of situations and behaviors. They are, in fact, as important to our survival behavior as fear.