Happiness - the best medicine
According to Dr. Derek Cox, Director of Public Health at Dumfries and Galloway NHS (National Health Service), there is growing evidence that suggests that happiness is a powerful predictor of future health outcomes. “If you are happy you are likely in the future to have less in the way of physical illness than those who are unhappy”, says Cox.
Research also suggests that there is a possible link between happiness and long life. A study examining the “happy” and “gloomy” thoughts of Notre Dame nuns showed that the happy nuns lived longer than the less happy nuns.
So, do our thoughts have anything to do with our happiness? According to University of California psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD., they do.
Did you know that almost half of our happiness might be within our control? By devoting less than 10 minutes a day to “reflection”, we can make ourselves happier!
According to University of California psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD., after a four-week study, people who thought about happy life events for eight minutes every day for three days felt increased life satisfaction.
A large part of Lyubomirsky’s ongoing research is based on exploring happiness-sustaining strategies, such as expressing gratitude and reflecting on happy moments, to boost one's happiness level.
While there are no miracle cures, psychologists concur that, with a little effort, we can make ourselves happier.
Like any other regimen, happiness requires a certain amount of effort and commitment. To affect change in any situation, we have to apply certain strategies and make a conscious effort to attain desired results. The more we put into “happiness”, the happier we’ll be.
Daily exercises, which involve challenging negative thoughts and counting our blessings, certainly prove to add a little “happy” to our lives.
While there is no simple or comprehensive formula for happiness, there seems to be a widespread acceptance of the power of positive thinking and doing.
An uncontrolled study of severely depressed people showed that 94% of them became less depressed and 92% became happier by doing a few simple exercises. One exercise consisted of writing down three blessings daily, while the others consisted of writing a gratitude testimonial and delivering it personally, and exploring personal strengths. The overall results indicated an average symptom relief of 50% over only 15 days. You might be surprised to learn that this measures up with anti-depressant medication and psychotherapy!
Could it be that science is beginning to tap into what spiritual teachers have always believed? That anything “positive” will see better results than “negative”.
Perhaps the psychotherapy of the future will be where you go to talk about positive emotion, instead of negative, and strengths, rather than weaknesses!