All Kinds of Happy
If you ask people, “What do you want most in life?”, the majority would respond, “I just want to be happy.” Makes perfect sense—who wouldn’t want to be happy?
However, happiness isn’t the most important positive emotion. In fact, researchers say that a wide range of feelings—what they call emodiversity—is the key to wellbeing, and more proof that emotional health directly affects physical health.
Results of a study in the journal Emotion revealed that participants who experienced a variety of positive emotions over a period of 30 days, including enthusiasm, determination, strength, pride, inspiration, excitement, gratitude, contentment, awe and happiness, had lower levels of inflammation—an autoimmune response that’s been linked to chronic diseases—than those who recorded fewer positive feelings. (Other studies indicate emotional diversity is also linked to less medication use, less depression, and better healthy habits such as exercise and good nutrition).
The researchers also measured negative feelings, which, interestingly, had no effect on inflammation. That lead experts to believe that positive emodiversity can potentially strengthen our resilience to negative events and prevent stress, anger or sadness from dominating our emotions.
Technique of the week: Notice when you are experiencing a positive emotion—such as pride, gratitude or joy—and label it. When you recognize and label a positive emotion, it may help you experience more varied positive emotions throughout the day which can ultimately improve your health!