"A positive mood enhances efforts to attain future well-being, encourages broader and flexible thinking, and increases openness to information," write study authors Aparna A. Labroo, of the University of Chicago, and Vanessa M. Patrick, of the University of Georgia.
Describing their study in the Journal of Consumer Research, the researchers revealed that they investigated the scientific basis for the simple practice of surrounding oneself with positive things.
In one experiment, they presented identical statements to study participants. The statements in each set were preceded by either a smiley face or a frowny face.
"The results revealed that simply associating a smiley with a statement resulted in the statement being construed at a higher, more abstract level," write the authors.
During the follow-up studies, the research team induced positive and negative moods by asking participants to describe either the happiest or unhappiest days in their lives.
The participants were also asked to fill out three different questionnaires, with a view to determining the level of abstract versus concrete thinking.
The researchers said that all three questionnaires showed that people in a good mood thought more abstractly.
According to them, being in a good mood allows people to step back emotionally.
"The research demonstrates that by signaling that a situation is benign, a positive mood allows people to psychologically distance themselves from the situation," the authors write.
"Those in a positive mood not only adopt higher-order future goals and work harder toward attaining them, but also reduce their efforts when goals are proximal or concrete," they conclude.