Every day life can be stressful and fulfilling at the same time. There maybe days when we feel that everything will be right and we would be lucky and encounter little difficulties. At other times, we seem to have gotten out on the wrong side of the bed, we are irritable, easily upset, negative and pick fights and say harsh words we really don’t mean. This just goes to show that how we live our lives each day may be influenced and driven by some internal regulator that dictates how we feel throughout the day.
People have a good day when they accomplish everything that they set out to do during the day, when they spend the day with people they love and care for, when they are safe and secure, when they are happy and laugh out loud, when they make friends instead of enemies and other positive things. Personally, for me, a good day is when I go through the day without any mishaps, when I feel appreciated and take pride in my work and my efforts are recognized, it may also be a day when I get to buy a favorite shirt on sale, or when I see old friends, or get a call from a friend whom I have not communicated with for a long time.
It can also be a day when kids and babies smile at me when I wave at them, when a bird comes for crumbs when I walk in the park and even an extra ice cream scoop from the soda shop is a good day. I am able to define a good day from a bad day from the emotional experience that I derive from the event or the situation. The emotional engagement model says that the engagement of the experience could either be in the form of emotional involvement or distance processes.
Involvement is characterized by positive and warm feelings, identification and sympathy. On the other hand, distance may show irritation, cold feelings and antipathy (Lewis & Haviland-Jones, 2000). Using the emotional engagement model, a good day can be defined by the positive feelings that the events or situation evokes, and hence the initial feeling will tend to make the individual become more involved and engaged in the event that the individual seek the situations that would continue his/her positive emotional experience (Lerner & Keltner, 2000).
For example, a teacher who is having a bad day is greeted by her adorable students, which makes her feel warm and happy, thus during the day, she would tend to place herself in situations wherein the chances of having warm feelings are possible, like smiling to the kids, laughing and etc. Distance processes may still be an emotional engagement since the event or situation evokes such strong feelings.
But it is when the psychological needs of the individual are met that they have a good day. Vitality or the feeling of wellness is affected by how able the individual is to satisfy his/her psychological needs, when an individual is placed in a situation wherein he/she is able to satisfy her psychological needs, and then he/she will have greater vitality (Kasser & Ryan, 1999).
Looking back at the example of the preschool teacher, she may have come to class unprepared but when she saw the smiles of the children, she realized that she has the opportunity to teach young minds; hence her vitality is increased knowing that there are many more people that need to be cared for. The satisfaction of psychological needs can also motivate people to act or behave in certain ways, for example, the preschool teacher has the inherent need to be recognized and appreciated and the students are the first to say so.
Kasser, V. & Ryan, R. (1999). The relation of psychological needs for autonomy and relatedness to vitality, well-being, and mortality in a nursing home. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 29,935-954. Lerner, J. & Keltner, D. (2000). Beyond valence: Toward a model of emotion-specific influences on judgment and choice. Cognition & Emotion, 14; 4, 473-493. Lewis, M. & Haviland-Jones, I. (2000) Handbook of Emotions 2nd ed. , New York: Guilford Press.