1. Positive Emotions Help You Build up Resilience

    April 16, 2014

    Positive Emotions Help You Build up Resilience

     

    Why do some people endure despite all? Why do some people can still see the bright sunny day despite everything bad that happens to them? How come there are people who can still stand tall when everything seems crumbling down? Why does someone, after a violent passing for instance, gives in to alcohol while another chooses to help others survive like they did? That is the question many researchers are trying to answer. What makes people thrive despite adversity?

    Being resilient

    Resilience is a key concept. Being a resilient person doesn’t mean that events don’t hurt the same as it would hurt anyone else. It just means you have more resources to stand up and fight the negativity in our life, despite all the hurt it may cause you. In the end you will use that hurt is an adaptive and constructive way.

    Why is resilience so important? It serves as a mental health protection. In face of tragedy, resilient people will not perish and give in to depression, helplessness or despair. Of course not everyone is as resilient as their next door neighbor and that’s ok. Because resilience is also something that can be built.

    “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”

    The famous sentence by philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche applies here when discussing resilience. Actually the more though situations you go through, you are more likely to have both the experience and the ability to answer once that same challenge is presented to you a second time.

    But what if positive emotions could also serve as a fuel for resilience? Fredrickson’s broaden-and-built model of positive emotions argues that positive emotions broaden our scope of action and thought, and also build up as resources to be used in stressful situations.

    In their study Cohn, Fredrickson, Brown, Mikels and Conway were able to link daily positive emotions experiences to ego resilience. Ego resilience is a “fairly stable personality trait that helps people adapt to their environment by identifying opportunities, adapting to constraints and bouncing back from misfortune” (page 362). In their study they found that experiencing daily positive emotions helps build ego resilience and deal with mild to moderate stressors, in a more constructive way. Ultimately growing your ego resilience will also help you experience higher levels of life satisfaction. But, as the authors of this study warn us, in cases of extreme psychological pain or psychopathology these results are not able to be seen.

    How can you be more resilient in your life?

    • Focus on the positive. It has to do with the kind of lenses you use to see the world. If we wish to focus solely on the negative, then we will find no reason to live and endure the kind of pain there is in the world. But nothing is ever just bad or just good. But focusing on the good will help attract more good things your way.
    • And search for it. We sometimes have a tendency for self-destruction and self-pity. But what if you decide to break the cycle and start searching for the positive emotions in your life? It may take a while but you’ll soon find more reasons to look on the bright side.
    • Keep feeding the positivity cycle in your life. Experiencing positive emotions in your life will decrease your stress levels, which in turn will help you build more resources, which will make you seek for more positivity in your life in a constant cycle.
    • Learn from experience. Staying in touch with the philosophers, Socrates said that “the unexamined life is not worth living”. The way I see it, it means that thinking life through will help you grow and not repeat the same mistakes again, making you a better person. So, if you examine your life and learn from your experience, you will learn how to seek positive emotions and build your resilience.

     

    Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisschoenbohm/9916669806


  2. Seven Habits of Happy People – Focusing on Exercise

    March 6, 2014

    Seven Habits of Happy People – Focusing on Exercise

    by Michelle Blessing

     

    (This article is a follow up to “7 Habits of Happy People“)

     

    We all know exercise benefits us in the physical sense – it improves our health and extends our life expectancy.  But many people don’t realize the benefits exercise has for your mental well-being; exercise improves brain function, improves mood and decreases the incidence of depression.  Still not convinced about the benefits exercise can have on your happiness and well-being?  Read on…..

     

    Many research studies have been published regarding the connection between exercise and happiness.  Most of the studies have discussed the link between improved mood and happiness with exercising.  Although the link is not definitive (some studies state that people who are happier are more inclined to exercise), there is proof that being active and exercising can and does improve your mood.  Some researchers have cited the release of endorphins during exercise as causing the improvement in mood, while others believe challenging the mind and body creates a feeling of satisfaction that leads to increased mood and happiness.

     

    However, as discussed in the post regarding caring, it can be difficult to find the time (and the energy) to exercise on a regular basis.  Take it from someone one who has been there – I was notorious for finding every excuse in the book not to exercise.  Here are some examples of my excuses – the dishes need to be done, my favorite show is on TV, I feel guilty spending time away from my kids….on and on the list went.  I wasn’t exercising, and clearly, my mood reflected that.  I soon discovered that in order to be the best version of myself, I needed to make the time to take care of myself.

     

    Exercise is and should be an important part of your everyday life.  Exercise has the ability to teach you things about yourself – what fulfills you and what you’re capable of.  The art of practicing some form of exercise, whether it is aerobics, walking or yoga, allows you to get in touch with your body – and your mind.  The key to success – and happiness- with exercise is not choosing something easy; it is important, however, to choose something you enjoy and something that will challenge you.

     

    Exercise and becoming physically active is the first step in achieving some level of happiness.  But there is truth in the idea of challenging yourself to accomplish goals or master something.  It doesn’t matter what exercise you choose; the important component is to find your niche, settle in and work towards whatever it is you want to accomplish.  Happiness will be the icing on that piece of cake.

     

    For me, yoga is what fulfills me.  It’s not just about the breathing or the stretching, the poses or the meditation; it’s about challenging my body to reach its potential.  With every class I take, I try harder, I get stronger – and I find a deeper sense of happiness and satisfaction.  For others, running is their passion; they find inner peace in pounding the pavement and pushing their body to the limit.  It doesn’t matter what you choose, but you need to make a commitment.  Make a commitment to exercise at least a few times per week.  Start slow (and always check with your physician before starting a new exercise regimen); 20 minutes of exercise, 2 or 3 times a week is a good place to begin.  With each exercise session, push yourself (within your limits) to progress towards your goals.  Most importantly, focus on how the exercise makes you feel both physically and mentally.  Appreciate how the activity impacts your body and your mind.  When you are exercising, try to focus on only that; let other thoughts (about the kids, bills or dinner) leave your mind; instead, keep the concentration on your body and mind, especially reflecting on what you are capable of.  By appreciating your body and your mind for what it can do, you not only push yourself on the path to happiness and positivity, you might even inspire others to do the same.

     

    Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jazz_defo/3529977647

     


  3. Yoga Helps you Discover Meaning in Life

    March 1, 2014

    Yoga Helps you Discover Meaning in Life

    by Melisa Marsett

    Have you ever thought why yoga gains popularity every day turning into one of the most popular spiritual practices? The person who is deeply in love with yoga will immediately answer this question. In addition to incredible health benefits, yoga gives at least general understanding of the meaning of human life. Yoga helps to find answers on the range of important questions that occur every day in the thoughts of people seeking for truth and the real purpose of our existence.

     

    Meaning in Feeling

     

    What’s the most important thing in life? Where and how we live our lives? According to yoga, we live in so-called “I”, we live our lives in our own feelings and everything else has no real relation to life. As strange as it may sound, but our life is our feelings, mood and emotions. When we have a good mood, we are inspired by everything – the world around us, people, atmosphere and even things. When we have a bad mood, nothing can force us to feel pleased and satisfied, even the most “valuable” and vital things which usually lead to happiness. When we are happy, the whole world is in harmony, everything brings joy to us, and vice versa.

    Therefore, generally speaking, the meaning of our life is to be happy. In other words, the meaning of life is to experience the feelings which give force, pleasure and joy. No matter how rich we are, money, power, houses, cars and sex mean nothing if all these do not please us. At the same time, if we live in harmony with the Spirit and experience the feeling of joy and life satisfaction, we will be happy even living, for example, in a cave and eating one spoon of rice per day. To improve the statement that the meaning of life is hidden in our feelings, we only should to look closely at our everyday life and feel the influence of our emotions.

    (more…)


  4. Developing A Sense of Gratitude

    February 2, 2014

    Developing A Sense of Gratitude

    Sure, we all want to believe we are grateful for the things we have in this life, but how much do we truly practice gratitude on a daily (or even weekly) basis?  Being grateful for what one has seems to be a simple task, but surprisingly, for many people, it is not.  With the hustle and bustle of daily life, along with the development of new gadgets and gizmos everyday, it can be hard to stay grounded and appreciate the things that are a part of you life in the here and now.  Here are some tips for increasing (or developing) a sense of gratitude.

     

    Write it down – This might seem like a no-brainer; writing down what you are grateful for is simple.  However, it can be more difficult than you think.  First and foremost, you need to actually sit down and find the time to write.  As I stated earlier about the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be hard for many people to justify sitting down for a few minutes and write out these affirmations.  However, by keeping a visible list of things and people you are grateful for in your life, it can serve as a powerful reminder in times of need.  Whenever you are feeling down about life or struggling with some problem, you can pull out the list and remind yourself of just how many things you have to be thankful for.

     

    Letters of appreciation – Another great idea to help you feel more grateful about your life is to write a letter of appreciation to someone in your life.  You don’t actually have to send this letter if you don’t want to, but the act of writing down all the ways this person has helped you can send an important message.  First, it helps you realize that you are important and others do care about you.  And second, it allows you to take a moment to reflect on just how much another person was able to be there for you during an emotional or trying time in your life.

     

    Meditate – Getting in tune with your physical and mental states of being is another way to develop or strengthen gratitude.  Even sitting down for 10 minutes and focusing on yourself can help you appreciate how strong you can actually be.  Focus on your breathing, how it feels as it enters and leaves your body; focus on the physical sensations and the mental clarity that meditation can bring.  Learning to appreciate the amazing things your body can actually do helps you to feel grateful for health and well-being.

     

    Help someone in need –This can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.  Maybe it’s a weekly standing date at the local shelter to lend a hand (or an ear).  Perhaps it’s volunteering once a month at the animal shelter.  Or maybe it’s simply helping someone with grocery bags outside the supermarket.  Whatever you do, no matter how large or small, the act of helping another human being helps you reconnect with your purpose in life and makes you appreciate the fact you can actually be of assistance to another person (or animal).

     

    Focus on what you have, not what you want – Sure, we all have wants in life.  We want to have more money, more time, a bigger house, a nicer car….the list could go on and on.  But instead of focusing on the things in life you don’t have, try refocusing your energy on what you do have.  For example, if you find yourself longing for more closet space in your bedroom and it’s stressing you out, think about the fact you are lucky to have your own bedroom – because there is someone out there sleeping on the floor (or worse, in a car or on the streets).  When you are upset because your best friend bought a new car and you’re still driving around in your clunker from college, think about that elderly gentleman who walks (rain, sleet or snow) because he can’t even afford a clunker.  When you keep the focus on what you actually have rather than what you don’t, you learn to appreciate the smaller (and greater) things in life.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jstar/4345364420/