WEEK 32- Broaden and Build Brainstorm

Equipment Required
Pen and Paper

PERMAH Element
Positive emotion and Relationships

Teachers to read and facilitate the following:



The broaden and build theory states that positive emotions broaden our awareness and encourage creative, original and exploratory thoughts and actions (Fredrickson, 2004). When we are experiencing positive feelings we can think more quickly and creatively. Our mind broadens due to enhanced neural connections. This is caused by the release of dopamine and serotonin, which are neurochemicals that make us feel good. Positivity also broadens our social responses- allowing us to connect and relate better to others. Over time, this builds our resources and capacity for wellbeing. On the other hand, when we are experiencing negative emotions the mind constricts and focuses in on the imposing threat (real or imagined). This limits our ability to be open to new ideas and build resources and relationships (Fredrickson, 2009). Positive emotions expand our awareness and allow us to take in more of our surroundings and contextual information, than we can during neutral or negative states (Fredrickson, 2015). We need both ways of responding at different times. In threatening situations, we need to be quick acting and narrowly focused. However if the threat is not real or lasting it can be detrimental to our health to stay in this responsive state. The broaden and build theory helps us to understand that we can use positive emotions to be more creative and calm in our problem solving, in our friendships (especially when things are tense), in our schoolwork and other interests. Little moments of positivity, although fleeting, can reshape who we are by setting us on a path of growth and building our enduring resources for a healthy life (Fredrickson, 2015).

Description of Personal Wellbeing Practice: Broaden and Build Brainstorm

Divide the class into five teams (4-6 Students per team).

  1. Individually, think of something that makes you feel happy. It might be a place, a person, a great memory, a beautiful picture, your favourite music or meal. Spend a few moments with those happy thoughts. (You don’t need to share these with anyone). The goal here, is simply to increase positive emotion so that we are able to broaden and build more effectively in a group activity.

  2. Next, we are going to Brainstorm as a group. Each teams will be judged on quantity of responses, as well as creativity, teamwork, humour and the appropriateness of the responses.

  3. All groups are given 3 minutes to brainstorm and come up with appropriate solutions to the question: What would be the possible consequences if there was no night? (i.e. if night time did not exist...ever).

  4. When I say go, the aim is to generate as many responses as you can as a group and nominate a group scribe to record them. There is no right or wrong response here. “Go”.

  5. Each team can share their responses with the class in order to determine which team was most effective in this challenge.

  6. Class discussion- how may boosting positive emotions have helped us with our creativity and awareness in this activity?

Main message:


“Just as water lilies retract when sunlight fades, so do our minds when positivity fades.” - Barbara Fredrickson


UPP’s Personal Wellbeing Practices

A Personal Wellbeing Practice (PWP) is an evidenced-based positive psychology intervention, applied in school communities or other educational settings. At UPP, we have tried to make these PWP’s simple, concise and relevant for students and their teachers. The six elements for the Personal Wellbeing Practices are: Positive emotion (P); Engagement (E); Relationships (R); Meaning (M); Accomplishment (A); and, Health (H).

We hope that these evidence-based tools of positive psychology will enhance help people to thrive and live their best life, both within and beyond the school gates.  

For more activities like this (and much more), check out THRIVE Online Lesson Modules for Pastoral Care and Wellbeing.

Unleashing Personal Potential