Magazine article Psychology Today

Putting Emotions to Work

Magazine article Psychology Today

Putting Emotions to Work

Article excerpt

AS YOU STUDY for a critical exam, hone a new skill, or save to buy a house, you probably rely on planning and raw effort as the main tools for pushing yourself ahead. But some unlikely emotions-gratitude, compassion, and pride-can also fuel persistence, according to Northeastern University psychologist David DeSteno, who makes his case in the new book Emotional Success. -Cameron Evans

GRATITUDE

Appreciation for what you already have might seem like an odd source of inspiration, but when you feel gratitude, DeSteno says, ''you're not fighting to overcome an impulse for something you want now. You value future gains more." This, he argues, makes it easier to persevere toward a future aim. After writing about an event that made them feel grateful, he found, people were more inclined to hold out for a larger cash reward.

COMPASSION

"A willingness to sacrifice our own resources to come to somebody's aid is adaptive because, ultimately, people tend to pay it back to us," DeSteno says. …

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