We had a wonderful conversation (see the conversations tab on this site) with two smart young UC Berkeley graduate students in psychology (Janelle Capnegro and Erica Lee) who have developed an intervention designed to help people with bipolar regulate and develop positive emotions.
It started us thinking about emotions in terms not only of how positive or negative the emotions are but also in terms of the intensity the emotion (or the level of physiologic arousal associated with those emotions).
According to this scheme, emotions can be high or low arousal and positive or negative.
People with depression and bipolar are often drawn to high arousal emotions (intense emotions).
And all of us tend to be drawn towards topics associated with negative emotion as a way of trying to prevent bad things from happening…
The conversation suggested that we should perhaps pay more attention in our lives to LAPF’s (low arousal positive feelings).
States of calm, serenity, tranquility and harmony are easy to lose track of in our lives, and to focus on urgency and intensity.
Taking a LAPF break on a regular basis can help us maintain a sense of balance. And even a small amount can go a long way (why we think that even two minutes of mindfulness practice twice a day can sometimes have such a good effect).
Check out the interview. And watch for more from these two women.