Positivity can make a huge difference in your day. Several mostly-positive days make for a positive week. Then come months, years, and a whole life. Of course, there are down times: dark moments and experiences that can cast months of shadows on the way we see ourselves and the people around us. These experiences try us, and often are an opportunity to grow, even if we don’t recognize that growth until well after the experience has passed. But when dark times bring us under too far, when we find it difficult to get through the day and it seems the weight persists long after it should, then it’s very useful to find a psychotherapist. Whether it is for depression, anxiety, or grief, working with a personal counselor can make a big difference.
For most people, the “big picture” goal of therapy is to improve the client’s quality of life. But even for those people not in therapy, there is always room for improvement. Finding the positive in day-to-day situations can go a long way, and increasing amounts of academic research and literature back up the important role positivity can play.One new study from Michigan State University explores the “fake it ‘til you make it” approach to smiling and positivity. Workers who frequently show fake smiles actually become less happy. Instead, those who look for the positive in a situation or think of happy things in their own lives are more likely to smile genuinely (and reap the positive benefits of that smile).
An article recently published by Springer follows Karen Rosenthal Hilsberg’s journey through her husband’s illness and death, and how she and her family healed and found hope by pursuing the positive through mindfulness meditation.
Finally, the infamous “Nun study,” in which hundreds of practicing Sisters volunteered to take surveys and, upon death, donate their brains for research into Alzheimer’s disease. (The shared schedule, diet, and other lifestyle factors made the nuns ideal for study.) What factor made the most difference in dementia symptoms? Attitude. But it didn’t stop with mental agility: those nuns whose autobiographies, written years before, were the most positive tended to live a full decade longer than those who were less positive.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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