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[icon] The Good Health of Happiness! - Talking to the Tiger
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Subject:The Good Health of Happiness!
Time:09:31 pm
Current Mood:optimisticoptimistic
(X-posting this from my own LJ, by special request)

perceval was kind enough to point me to this article about all the health benefits (both physical & mental) that come from being around positive people.   Thanks, perceval...I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.  

The whole thing is worth a read - there's lots of good stuff in there that I truly believe.  A few passages that really jumped out at me:

"If you were around one or more people with a potentially harmful contagious disease, you would probably take steps to protect yourself in some way. And if you were the contagious one, you'd likely take steps to protect others until you were sure the chance of infecting someone else was gone.

But while we all have a lot of respect for physical biological contagions, we do NOT have much respect for physical emotional contagions. (I said "physical", because science has known for quite some time that "emotions" are not simply a fuzzy-feeling concept, but represent physical changes in the brain.)"

This concept of 'emotional contagion' is something awelkin and I have discussed at length.  LJ is living proof  - negative posts always generate higher interest than positive ones.  Why do we have more to say about what pisses us off than we do about what makes us happy?  Maybe because what makes us happy is easier to take for granted...or seems less interesting to talk about.  Maybe we feel that we have more common ground when we're talking about the things we all commonly dislike. 

"Can any of us honestly say we haven't experienced emotional contagion? Even if we ourselves haven't felt our energy drain from being around a perpetually negative person, we've watched it happen to someone we care about. We've noticed a change in ourselves or our loved ones based on who we/they spend time with. We've all known at least one person who really did seem able to "light up the room with their smile," or another who could "kill the mood" without saying a word. We've all found ourselves drawn to some people and not others, based on how we felt around them, in ways we weren't able to articulate."

Gosh, this is the truth, isn't it?   I have certainly known (and still know, especially at work) both kinds of people listed above and  have seen their effect on others and myself.  

"The idea seems to be that "happy people" implies those who are oblivious to the realities of life, in a fantasy of their own creation, and without the ability to think critically. The science, however, suggests just the opposite."

This last sentence made me cheer out loud.  If there's one thing I've heard over and over in my 'sunny side up' life, it's that my positive outlook is a sign that I'm shallow, that I'm not realistic or taking life seriously enough...which is utter crap.  Read on...

"Furthermore, studies suggest that certain people's ability to see life through rose-colored glasses links to a heightened left-sided brain function. A scrutiny of brain activity indicates that individuals with natural positive dispositions have trumped up activity in the left prefrontal cortex compared with their more negative counterparts. "

In other words, happy people are better able to think logically."

Woot!  Check out my overactive prefrontal cortex, baby!!

"Evidence suggests that the left-siders may better handle stressful events on a biological level. For example, studies show that they have a higher function of cells that help defend the body, known as natural killer cells, compared with individuals who have greater right side activity. Left-sided students who face a stressful exam have a smaller drop in their killer cells than right-siders. Other research indicates that generally left-siders may have lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol."

Does this explain my (otherwise unexplainable) low blood pressure?  :)

This is my favorite sentence in the whole piece:  "Happiness is not our only emotion, it is simply the outlook we have chosen to cultivate because it is usually the most effective, thoughtful, healthy, and productive."

I'm printing that out and putting it above my desk tomorrow!

I know I probably go on about this a lot...it's a hot button issue with me because I get tired of having to defend it so much.  It's nice to see some evidence that supports some of what I've been saying.    And I hope it means that I'm being a positive influence on my friends and co-workers, even when I'm not doing anything but being me.  :)

comments: Leave a comment Previous Entry Share Next Entry

Time:2006-04-22 01:36 am (UTC)
Thanks for putting this here!

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[icon] The Good Health of Happiness! - Talking to the Tiger
View:Recent Entries.