A positive outlook is the most important predictor of resilience. It's not just Hollywood magic. Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi and some real research:
James Pennebaker, a psychological researcher at the University of Texas in Austin, has found that people who find meaning in adversity are ultimately healthier in the long run than those who do not. In a study, he asked people to write about the darkest, most traumatic experience of their lives for four days in a row for a period of 15 minutes each day.
Analyzing their writing, Pennebaker noticed that the people who benefited most from the exercise were trying to derive meaning from the trauma. They were probing into the causes and consequences of the adversity and, as a result, eventually grew wiser about it. A year later, their medical records showed that the meaning-makers went to the doctor and hospital fewer times than people in the control condition, who wrote about a non-traumatic event.
Feeling sad, mad, critical or otherwise awful? Surprise: negative emotions are essential for mental health.
Anger and sadness are an important part of life, and new research shows that experiencing and accepting such emotions are vital to our mental health. Attempting to suppress thoughts can backfire and even diminish our sense of contentment.
Instead of backing away from negative emotions, accept them. Acknowledge how you are feeling without rushing to change your emotional state. Many people find it helpful to breathe slowly and deeply while learning to tolerate strong feelings or to imagine the feelings as floating clouds, as a reminder that they will pass. I often tell my clients that a thought is just a thought and a feeling just a feeling, nothing more.
Creativity is in such demand today that when we apply for jobs, when we join organizations, or when we just meet other people, we are asked to present our creative selves. But we can’t do that unless we understand the nature of our own creativity, locate the sources of our originality, and have a language that explains our work. If you are one of the growing number of “creatives,” or want to become one, you need to lead a creative life.
The reason a compassionate lifestyle leads to greater psychological well-being may be explained by the fact that the act of giving appears to be as pleasurable, if not more so, as the act of receiving.
Another way in which a compassionate lifestyle may improve longevity is that it may serve as a buffer against stress.
Yet another reason compassion may boost our well-being is that it can help broaden our perspective beyond ourselves.
Finally, one additional way in which compassion may boost our well-being is by increasing a sense of connection to others.
Given the importance of compassion in our world today, and a growing body of evidence about the benefits of compassion for health and well-being, this field is bound to generate more interest and hopefully impact our community at large.
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