Why Good Moods Are Important
Why Good Moods Are Important
A few years ago, I was knocking on my professors' doors looking for a thesis advisor for my thesis about Positive Psychology. Mostly, I kept running into the reaction that Positive Psychology was a fad - pop science - and soon would disappear off the radar. Positive Psychology was all about studying what made people happy and real psychology was about helping people who were suffering.
Well, that was four years ago and Positive Psychology is still around - bigger than ever - and showing us that being happy matters.
We all want to be happy but being happy is not something we usually seek for itself. Even though world-wide people rank happiness as highly as making money or having a good relationship, happiness is often seen as too Pollyannaish, new-agey, or frivolous to be taken seriously.
In my work as a personal coach, not one of my clients has ever come to me with the explicit goal of increasing their happiness. But research from many different fields clearly shows that your happiness is the most valuable personal resource you have to achieve what it is you want in your life.
It appears that happiness in and of itself is beneficial and is your greatest personal asset you can use to live a better life and get what you want out of life. On every single measure of well-being, happier people do better. Being happier is unquestionably beneficial at home, at work, personally, professionally, individually, in relationships, in groups, and in organizations.
Experiencing more positive emotions is associated with:
* Making more money
* Being healthier
* Living longer
* Getting better jobs
* Having better relationships
* Participating in more social activities
* Getting higher customer ratings and supervisor evaluations
* Being liked by more people
* Taking fewer sick days
* Being more creative
* Helping others more
* Coping better with your life circumstances
* Getting better grades
* Thinking more clearly and expansively
(It is not just that having these things makes you happier it is actually that being happier brings about these benefits.)
Mountains of evidence shows that being happier is good for you - in every way- and is the most valuable capital you can have for living a meaningful, fulfilled, and successful life.
But how do you get happier?
If you are waiting for your life circumstances to change to get happier - that's not really going to do it for you in the long run. Research is clear that life circumstances make up only a small portion of happiness. Even though we would all be happier if some part of our life situation changed it would only be a small and short lived contribution to our overall feelings of well-being.
What about genetics? Yes, it is true that some of us are pre-wired for more happiness and can get happier easier - but again this accounts for only a small portion of our happiness.
If you want to get happier - (here is the most useful thing to know about happiness) no matter who you are or what your life circumstances you can train yourself how to be happier.
It appears that the best place to start to increase your happiness and well-being is in your everyday activities and behaviors over which you have personal and direct control. You can't change your genetic make up and changing life circumstances takes a heavy investment of time and energy and there are some national and world trends that are tough to change but it is a straightforward and "within your reach" matter to change your daily routines and practices.
It is in our daily lives and everyday behaviors and activities where we have the greatest choice and most direct control and it is where our greatest potential for increasing our happiness lies.
Increase your happiness by practicing appreciation.
For years, New Age self-help books have been telling you to write down things that you appreciate. Turns out they are right. Science verifies the wisdom of that advice.
Research shows that sustained experience of appreciation results in highly ordered brain and heart rate patterns. Appreciation is one of the emotions that reflects order in your neurophysiological systems and produces what is called "physiological coherence."
During states of physiological coherence, your body systems are synchronized, more efficient and in greater harmony. You experience better cognitive performance, more emotional stability, and enhanced emotional and social functioning. In addition, when your body is in a state of physiological coherence you feel more at peace and experience a sense of security.
Plus, new research shows that practicing appreciation does indeed increase your happiness. People who write down three good things that happened during the day for one week and answered "Why did this good thing happen?" experience happiness benefits lasting at least three months.
Happiness and satisfaction is highest for those who consciously direct their attention to appreciation.
Each night before you go to bed review by yourself or with someone you love what you appreciated that day. At first, it may be a bit forced but it will grow and evolve into a robust and nurturing routine.
Start by reviewing at least three things you appreciate about the day. Sometimes you may have to reach a bit to find three things but most of the time many more than three things just come flowing one after the other.
You can add appreciation about anything in your life including:
* What you appreciate about your partner or significant other
* What you appreciate about yourself
* What you appreciate about your work
* What you appreciate about your health
* What you appreciate about your children
* What you appreciate about your wealth/ prosperity
* What you appreciate about your dogs, cats, and other pets
Plus, every night you can rotate through all the members of your family and say at least one thing we appreciate about whosever turn it is
I Don't Have Time For That
You might be looking at this idea and get tired just thinking about doing it. Maybe it seems overwhelming to you - "I can't think of that many things to appreciate" or "I don't have that much time I have to get to sleep sometime tonight".
Really, it only takes about 5 minutes. It is relaxing and fun to do. Plus, it is supportive, nurturing, and soothing, builds a great connective relationship, and certainly helps you sleep better than thinking about all that went wrong that day or all you have to do tomorrow.
You can always find something to appreciate
Taking the time to appreciate your life changes you in ways you won't understand until appreciation becomes part of your life. Practicing appreciation does incredibly wonderful things for your biochemistry - real chemical and physical changes. Appreciation helps reduce your experience of stress. Appreciation makes you more creative and intuitive. Your relationships are better when you practice appreciation.
But the biggest benefit you get from practicing appreciation is that you will feel better - you'll be happier! And besides feeling good - think about all the great side benefits of being happier. :)
Mary Ann Copson is Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients better manage their moods and energy. She is the founder of the Evenstar Mood & Energy Wellness Center for Women . You can visit her online at www.evenstaronline.com or reach her by phone at 434-263-4996.