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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Positive emotions are vital to psychological well-being and enhance resilience against psychopathology. One of the psychiatric disorders most characterized by a lack of positive emotions is major depressive disorder. Despite the resilience-enhancing features of positive emotions and high rates of relapse for major depressive disorder, current recommended treatment forms do not pay much explicit attention to the stimulation of positive emotions. One evidence-based form of relapse prevention is mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. In mindfulness based cognitive therapy, participants train their capacity to intentionally guide their attention toward present-moment experience through daily practice, such as focusing on their own breath. Another important aspect of the training is the cultivation of an open, nonevaluative, curious, and mild orientation of mind. Many scholars have focused on the nonevaluative quality of mindful present-moment awareness as an antidote for reducing negative mental states. The question arises regarding which extent mindfulness-based therapies naturally enhance positive emotions. The current chapter first reviews the current evidence for positive emotions as a protective factor against the development of major depressive episodes and then examines the evidence for the idea that mindfulness practice may naturally facilitate the experience of positive emotions. The chapters ends by presenting a novel account detailing how the practice of mindfulness may result in increased positive emotions as well as translate into an increased sense of meaningfulness and purpose. Implications for enhancing the facilitation of positive emotions in mindfulness-based therapies are discussed.

Keywords: mindfulness, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, positive affect, resilience, stress sensitivity, reward experience, experience sampling, savoring, positive reappraisal, Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement

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