The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has taken a significant toll on mental health; people around the world are experiencing high levels of stress and deteriorated wellbeing. The past research shows that positive emotions can help people cultivate a resilient mindset; however, the reality created by the global crisis itself limits the opportunities for experiencing positive emotions. Thus, it is unclear to what extent their effect is strong enough to counter the psychological impact of the current pandemic. Here, the author reports the findings of a survey conducted across two large representative samples in the United Kingdom and the United States (Ntotal = 2000) during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic (in Spring 2020). A linear regression model revealed that the presence of positive emotions is strongly linked with resilience, in particular for individuals experiencing more negative emotions. These results show that positive emotions are particularly important to mental health in the context of high stress, reflected by increased levels of negative emotional experiences. These results are also consistent with the existential positive psychology perspective, which posits that even negative emotions can contribute to wellbeing once they are transformed. The author discusses the potential of positive emotions to transform suffering and thereby ameliorate the negative impact of the present collective crisis.
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- existential positive psychology (PP2.0)
- positive emotions
- resilience (psychological)