Sunday, December 11, 2016

Promote the Positive

Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out. 
-John Wooden

Michael A. Cohn, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher with the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco studies emotions. He believes in what he terms, the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions.

Cohn recently conducted a study with 86 college students who submitted daily emotion reports. He measured the students' ability to respond with flexibility to challenging and shifting circumstances and used a scale to assess life satisfaction. 

The study showed that positive emotions increased resilience. This included skills for identifying opportunities and bouncing back from adversity as well as life satisfaction.

"We found that as positive emotions go up, there comes a point where negative emotions no longer have a significant negative impact on building resources or changing life satisfaction," Cohn says. He continues, "Positive emotions won't protect you from feeling bad about things, nor should they. But over time, they can protect you from the consequences of negative emotions."

Life throws a variety of challenges at us each day. We can choose to see them as flat lines of negativity or take action to draw a vertical line through the horizontals and create a plus sign. Taking action always makes something happen to keep us moving, regardless of mood. Humor colors life with vibrancy.

These exercises will help you create more Positivity in your life:

1. Focus on your sense of humor to provide buoyancy in all types of weather. Laughter strengthens the stomach muscles and releases chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, to elevate the mood.

2. To practice laughter, begin with a breathing exercise. Take five breaths in and five out through the nose. After five repetitions, let the out breath go with: ha ha ha ha ha. Notice how energized you feel. Remember this exercise the next time you feel stressed.

3. When a negative emotion crosses your mind, write it down. When you write: frustration, anger, worry or fear, include emotions to counteract them. Give them names and write a dialogue between the opposites.

4. Make three columns and list your three greatest accomplishments. In each column, write ways you accomplished these Feats of Fantastic. Keep the list with you and add to it. If you feel frustrated during a challenge, refer to the list to see how you succeeded in the past.

5. Who is a Hero in your area of expertise or life in general? How does this person achieve success? How do you suppose this person greets failure?

If you spend time working on the above five areas, you will develop Positive habits that will grow into your Best Friends during times of need. 

When you find yourself in a negative mood, write the mood across the top of a page.  Then begin writing about feelings that arouse satisfaction. What really makes your day and gives you buoyancy?  Include sounds, scents, tastes and sensations. Don't forget to include humor. 

Notice what happens as you write two or three pages.  Do you feel an emotional alteration?

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