Want to Be Both Happier and Smarter? Science Says First Take a Bite of Sadness, Anxiety, or Stress

Want to Be Both Happier and Smarter? Science Says First Take a Bite of Sadness, Anxiety, or Stress

As Positive Psychology has progressed and matured, it’s accepted more and more the notion of acceptance. That is, living our best lives is not just about enjoying the positive emotions, although it is partly that, but it’s also about accepting and managing the very real and at times very appropriate negative emotions.

We can’t be happy all the time! And we shouldn’t try or expect to be.

But if we face up to life’s sometimes cold, hard realities, we can face down some of live’s unpleasantness and pain, and be more ready to accept and enjoy happiness and even success …

via Inc.com by Jeff Haden

Here’s the most obvious sentence you’ll read today: Everyone would like to be happier, if only because happiness is good for you

A little less obvious is how to actually quantify your level of happiness. Or how to quantify fulfillment. Or how to quantify overall life satisfaction

Even so, it should stand to reason that happier people simply experience more frequent feelings of happiness than less happy people. 

Or not.

According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, experiencing a variety of emotions on a regular basis leads to better overall mental (and physical) health. The key is balance: Experiencing moments of joy, gratitude, awe, and amusement, as well as moments of embarrassment, fear, stress, and even anger.

Do that, and as the researchers write:

Humans are notoriously quick to adapt to repeated exposure to a given positive emotional experience; positive experiences that are diverse may be more resistant to such extinction.

[We found that] the variety and relative abundance of the emotions people experience is an independent and integral component of the human emotional ecosystem that predicts both mental and physical health.

Or, to put it more simply, regularly experiencing a few lows makes you appreciate the occasional highs even more — and the practice you get from experiencing negative emotions makes it less likely those lows will feel quite so overwhelming.

Experiencing a Range of Emotions Can Make You Happier

Granted, that’s a pretty bold claim, one that has made subsequent researchers argue the above research is flawed. One wrote, “It appears that [the researchers’ findings] may reduce to little more than a set of computational and statistical artifacts.” 

Academic sniping aside, though, the premise makes sense: Do everything you can to avoid experiencing negative emotions and when bad things inevitably happen, that moment can feel devastating.

Do everything you can to avoid situations that might feel stressful, or embarrassing, or a little scary, and then you’ll be less able to deal effectively with those emotions when they do occur. New research backs up that position. A 2021 study found that engaging in a variety of daily activities correlated with experiencing a broader range of emotions, and with it increased levels of happiness and life satisfaction.

Doing different things — regularly trying different things — naturally puts you in situations where you experience a broader range of emotions, both positive and negative.

Which helps you be better prepared to put those highs and the lows in perspective…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE