From sweets to saints, various attractions fill the mind. Diverse values activate emotional responses that are sometimes disordered. A lesson from psychology helps us order our value-responses gloriously.

Barbara Fredrickson is a psychologist specializing in the experimental study of positive emotion. Her research, set forth in Positivity, finds that the most common positive emotions are joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride (paired with humility), amusement, inspiration, awe, and love. (In a more recent book, Love 2.0, she sets forth love as the supreme “emotion” in this list.)

The theory for which Fredrickson has been accumulating evidence throughout her career is this: Positive emotions broaden our range of creative and constructive responses and build our character.

Despite these essential nourishing functions of positive emotion, observes Fredrickson, we commonly cut short our own positive emotions before they have a chance to fulfill their mission in us. We turn the page, click the next link, interrupt the rise of feeling toward a higher level.

But instead of hurrying through our positive emotional life, we can allow these blessings to blossom fully. When positive emotions begin to dawn, we take the time to let them to come forth abundantly—to permeate, uplift, open, and strengthen us.

Now let’s go beyond psychology to philosophy. Some philosophers have realized that emotions are responses to values. Values are what we strive for and rejoice in. There are diverse values on different levels, and the supreme values are truth, beauty, and goodness.

Now let’s move from philosophy into the spiritual and religious realm. Supreme values are what we can comprehend of divinity, and divinity is the quality of Deity. So when we become aware of the divine lure of truth, beauty, or goodness reaching out to us, our relationship with God has already become activated.

A positive emotion that begins in a simple, everyday way, if given the chance to blossom fully, could carry us from homey delight into worship.

Truth, beauty, and goodness surround us constantly, even though those values may remain in the background as we focus on the facts or more specific values in our daily tasks. Thanks to the quiet presence of supreme value suffusing reality around and within us, we can grow to become constantly illuminated by worship.


This blog post draws on page 98 in Living in Truth, Beauty, and Goodness by Jeffrey Wattles, which will be published by Cascade Books. It is expected to be released within two weeks. Once published, the book can be ordered by calling (541) 344-1528, by email to orders@wipfandstock.com, by fax to (541) 344-1506, or online at www.wipfandstock.com (though the book will not show up on the website until one or two weeks after publication). The paperback retails at $31.00. After publication, it can take 6-8 weeks to appear available on amazon; and for the Kindle book ($9.99) to be available takes 3-6 months.