What’s the Point of Success if You’re Too Dead to Enjoy It?
By: Deb Maes
November 27, 2013
For decades, researchers have been exploring how negative emotions harm our bodies. There is a huge body of research that shows how stress or fear alters biological systems creating ‘wear and tear’.
Recently though, I came across this interesting piece of research into the link between positive emotions and good health. I’d like to share this with you.
In a Harvard University study back in 2007, they found that emotional vitality—a sense of enthusiasm, of hopefulness, of engagement in life, and the ability to face life’s stresses with emotional balance—produced a protective effect, which was distinct and measurable.
Positive emotions though are not simply the absence of negative moods and self-destructive habits. AND, it is something entirely different than ‘success’ in economic terms. AND, it is not simply a matter of ‘Don’t worry – Be happy”. The research suggested that modern life doesn’t permit us to easily be totally care-free.
Though, four keys to a happier, healthier life were identified:
- Emotional vitality: a sense of enthusiasm, hopefulness, engagement,
- Optimism: the perspective that good things happen, and that actions account for good things in life,
- Supportive networks of family and friends and
- Self-regulation: An ability to respond resourcefully to challenges and a belief the things will ‘turn out’ ok; choosing healthy behaviours, such as physical activity and eating well; and avoiding risky behaviours.
“Even in adulthood, it’s not too late to cultivate these qualities”,
says Laura Kubzansky, the lead researcher.
This is counter to what I come across, at times in my profession. Some people who are very skilled at finding fault in others and they present their criticism in a way that suggests they are somehow superior. AND I get the feeling that being positive is naïve or silly.
So, I’m happy this research confirms what I know to be true …
that there is more wisdom in finding the positives in myself and others and dwelling upon this.
The research recommends that we all need to have activities that absorb our attention fully. “Everyone needs to find a way to be in the moment …to find a restorative state that allows you to put down your burdens”, she says.
Whether it’s meditation, faith-based activities, sports, or simply spending time with friends, focusing on something positive, or changing your perspective, she suggests is the key to happiness and health.
Are you good at doing that?
Your health and life depend on you doing so.
I encourage you to make it a priority.