How To Boost Positive Emotions When You’re Fearful Of The Future

May 27, 2023; Unhurry Expert Research Team

An induced feeling of awe, or a state of wonder, may be the best strategy yet for alleviating the discomfort that comes from uncertain waiting.

Kate Sweeny’s research explores the most excruciating form of waiting: the period during which one awaits uncertain news, the outcome of which is beyond one’s control.

It’s waiting for news from a biopsy, or whether you aced — or tanked — the exam. That’s distinguished from waiting periods such as when looking for a new job, when you have at least some control over the outcome.

Meditation or engaging activities help alleviate difficult periods.

Her research has found some clues for alleviating those difficult periods. Meditation helps, as does engage in “flow” activities — those that require complete focus, such as a video game.

“However, meditation is not for everyone, and it can be difficult to achieve a state of flow when worry is raging out of control,” Sweeny and her team asserts in their latest related research, published recently in The Journal of Positive Psychology.

Awe, the best strategy to alleviate the purgatory of waiting

Sweeny, a professor of psychology at UC Riverside, has discovered what may be the best strategy yet to alleviate the most uncomfortable purgatory of waiting. That is, awe, defined in the research as a state of wonder, a transportive mindset brought on by beautiful music, or a deeply affecting film.

A total of 729 participants from two investigations were used in the study. Participants in the first test completed a fictitious intelligence exam. In the second test, participants thought they were looking forward to hearing how the other study participants felt about them.

Awe-induction elicits significantly positive emotions

They each viewed one of three films that awed them in different ways. The first was an instrumental, high-definition movie of a sunrise that served as an “awe induction”. The second was a control video that was supposed to inspire joy rather than awe. A film of adorable animal couples was shown. A neutral video was the third one. about the manufacture of padlocks in this instance.

When awaiting the results of IQ tests and peer evaluations, researchers discovered that those who watched the awe-inspiring film showed much more positive moods and less worry.

“Our research shows that watching even a short video that makes you feel awe can make waiting easier, boosting positive emotions that can counteract stress in those moments,” Sweeny said.

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According to Sweeny, the study can be utilized to develop tactics for amplifying joy and reducing worry during the most strenuous stretches of waiting. As a result of the idea of awe’s recent focus in psychology, the study also highlights for the first time its positive impacts during trying waiting times, creating new research opportunities.

“Now that we know we can make people feel better through brief awe experiences while they’re waiting in the lab, we can take this knowledge out into the real world to see if people feel less stressed when they watch “Planet Earth” or go to an observatory, for example, while they’re suffering through a difficult waiting period,” Sweeny said.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of California – Riverside. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Kyla Rankin, Sara E. Andrews, Kate Sweeny. Awe-full uncertainty: Easing discomfort during waiting periods. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2019; 1 DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2019.1615106

Page citation:

University of California – Riverside. “Sense of wonderment may relieve the worry of waiting for uncertain news.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 June 2019. <>.

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