Seeing the world through happy-go-lucky, rose-colored lenses can certainly brighten any day. But as Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., points out in a recent article for Psychology Today, happiness is far more than just an emotional experience—it can actually change the way you perceive the world.
Whitbourne goes on to cite research from Ghent University's Naomi Vanlessen, who found that happiness allows you to see the bigger picture of life, sometimes at the expense of analytical or inward thinking. "When you've just received good news, for example, you'll be able to look at things around you in a positive light but, more importantly, you'll also be able to think more creatively," explains Whitbourne. "New ideas might pop into your head as you reconsider how to approach a familiar task. Conversely, when you're feeling dejected or disappointed after some type of loss of breakup, each of life's minor annoyances only adds to your pain."
Vanlessen and team collected over 1000 published studies on mood and attention, narrowing down the list to 21 studies deemed rigorous enough for review and analysis. After considering all of the research, they found that when in a good mood, people are able to take in a wider variety of stimuli and process things more creatively as opposed to analytically. In other words, "when you're in a bad mood, you'll fail to notice how beautiful the full moon is because you'll be so preoccupied with your own negative thoughts and feelings."
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