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This study by a team of Finnish researchers mapping the links between bodily sensations and emotions of 701 participants found that happiness, more than any other emotion, activates the whole body. The researchers induced different emotions in the participants and then detailed where in their body they felt increasing or decreasing activity, to produce a coloured body heat map. In the heat map yellow indicates the highest level of activity, followed by red. Black is neutral, while blue and light blue indicate lowered and very low activity respectively.

Happiness Lights Up Your Body | Mental Toughness Partners

Happiness is the one emotion from the six that fills the whole body including the brain and the legs although sadness also fills the legs although to a lesser extent.

This study was reported in the excellent psyblog – here is the link to the article with the body maps for six basic emotions as well as body heat maps for anxiety, love, depression, contempt, pride and shame.

Paul Lyons is an experienced CEO, Coach, Speaker, NED and MTQ48 accredited. As CEO of Mental Toughness Partners, he assists individuals and organisations to develop their mental toughness to improve performance, behaviour and wellbeing. You can find him at and