One powerful antidote isRead More›
The researchers analyzed data from 100 middle-aged participants in a longitudinal study of midlife in the United States that included telephone interviews about participants’ daily experience as well as subjective and objective measures of sleeping habits. The study looked at the overall levels of positive emotion that the participants experienced in their lives – those associated with more stable personality traits, as well as daily fluctuations in positive emotions in reaction to daily events.
The team found that, as expected, having a more positive general outlook on life was associated with improved sleep quality. However, they found that the more reactive or fragile a participant’s positive emotions were in relation to external events, the more their sleep was impaired, especially for individuals high in positivity to begin with.
“Previous research suggests that the experience of joy and happiness may slow down the effects of aging by fortifying health-enhancing behaviors such as restorative sleep,” said first author Anthony Ong, associate professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology. “Our study extends this research by showing that whereas possessing relatively stable high levels of positive emotion may be conducive to improved sleep, unstable highly positive feelings may be associated with poor sleep because such emotions are subject to the vicissitudes of daily influences.” Ong added, “These findings are novel because they point to the complex dynamics associated with fragile happiness and sleep that until now have been largely attributed to unhappy people.”
Ong co-authored the study, “Linking stable and dynamic features of positive affect to sleep,” with Deinera Exner-Cortens and Catherine Riffin, Cornell graduate students; Andrew Steptoe, University of London; Alex Zautra, Arizona State University; and David Almeida, Penn State University.
Gratitude is a big buzzword these days, and for good reason. Studies are showing that a” conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits” (Emmons and McCullough).
Today I am grateful that I get to work from home on Fridays. Being home today allowed me time with my two godchildren (I live with their family) this morning . While their mother took the toddler to preschool, I danced in the kitchen with the 11-month-old. As we bounced and swayed to the music, he put his head on my shoulder. In a matter of minutes he was sound asleep. I continued dancing with him, feeling gratitude fill my heart for this moment in the kitchen, on a morning when I could work from home.
No sooner had I put him down in the crib when his mother came home with a look of horror on her face. She had just heard on the radio about the shooting at the elementary school in Connecticut. In a moment, the sweet feeling in my heart shifted to one of pain and sadness. As I read the news accounts online, I sobbed for the loss of innocent lives, and the extreme loss of the parents whose children were killed.
Unable to focus on anything else, I went on Facebook and saw post after post responding to the shooting. There was comfort in reading my friends’ pain. I was grateful for this social network and the chance to connect with others in real time. It felt as if we were all in the same room crying together, even though miles apart.
Throughout the day, I kept coming back to this article I had started in my mind as I danced with my godson. Gratitude puts our minds focus on the positive. I began the practice of thinking of what I am grateful for, and felt my heart begin to soften and fill with peace again.
Yes, I am angry about what happened. I am angry that this man had access to guns to kill these innocent children. Yes, I want stricter gun control. And yet I know deep in my heart that the way to change the world is not through more laws. It is through acts of human kindness, generosity, empathy, love, and compassion. It is up to us to change the world.
Last week, in Aurora, Colorado, we witnessed one of the largest tragedies of its kind in U.S. History. 12 people died and 57 were injured, and it leaves us wondering, WHY? What propels an individual to be so tortured to resort to mass murder of innocent people in a public place? And how do we cope with the aftermath – the sorrow, the trauma and the sense that you never know…
In an odd replay of fiction come to life, so many of the characters in the Batman movie are flat out insane – disconnected from their community, their own inner compass and their very hearts. It’s one thing to watch that on the screen and another to see it acted out in real life with real life consequences. But where do we draw the line?
There is no denying that we are all influenced by the people and the emotional atmosphere we are surrounded with, whether positive and uplifting or harmful and toxic. In Aurora, 70 people have suffered because one person was at the point of no return. Let’s be clear that there is NO excuse for harming anyone. The challenge is what can we do as individuals and communities to try to plant new seeds so this tragedy has less of a chance of erupting again. We can point fingers to one young man who was so sick that he became a mass murderer. But that will not solve the core of the problem. The call to action is for each of us to look at our own lives, attitudes, choices and actions. The question is: can we make any internal changes that can help, both for us and the next generation? From this tragedy of lost lives, hopes and dreams, here are 5 ideas worth considering:Read More›
I have spent a ton of time lately thinking about how to find happiness in times like these.
I think about all the different situations that surround so many people in my life. So how can you find happiness when: you’ve lost your job, you’ve lost your house, your child is dying, your child has an incurable condition, you have cancer, your parent just died of cancer, or you are getting divorced? Those are just some examples.
How can you be happy amidst all the insanity that envelopes your life when you are dealing with just one of those things, let alone multiple things?Read More›
(at reflectionondepression.typepad.com). As readers of the Project Happiness Handbook know, there is no magic bullet for happiness and this is doubly true for those suffering from clinical depression. But as compassionate people — whether we are friends, parents, teachers or mentors — we can reach out to those struggling with depression and help connect them with the professional resources to heal. And if you are struggling with depression, reach out to those around you and start down the road to happiness and wellness that Nina talks about here.
And here’s a list of Nina’s favorite resources for depression:
- http://moodgym.anu.edu.au/welcome — Mood Gym is a cognitive behavioral therapy site. It’s free, consists of several different modules, and walks the participant through CBT techniques. It’s not a replacement for live therapy, but it’s a good start.
- http://www.narsad.org/ – NARSAD is my favorite mental health charity, and always gets me excited about the scientific and medical progress we are making in understanding mental health disorders. Also, 100% of donations go to research.
- Beyond Blue is a great depression blog with a spiritual theme. http://blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/.
- Darkness Visible by William Styron
- Unholy Ghost: Writers on depression, Edited by Neil Casey
In this installment, Dr. Brooks helps teachers tame the elephant in the classroom: fear of making mistakes and being humiliated. This fear is so strong that it can severely interfere with learning. Dr. Brooks offers a proactive resilient approach in which teachers address these fears directly and lead students in problem-solving to make the classroom a safe space. He also gives some tips on true discipline as discipleship/teaching: using his latest book (‘Raising a Self-Disciplined Child‘) as a touch point, he talks about how discipline can engender resilience, not resentment:
After listening, think about what a safe and nurturing classroom space feels like to you. Take a look at this website for some welcoming and open classroom designs. And then share some ideas for your dream classroom on Twitter — how would you makes space for that elephant with unlimited time and budget?
Here Dr. Brooks and I finally make the connection between resilience and happiness. Some of the key components of resilience — identifying and displaying your strengths, helping others, and solving problems — are also things that bring satisfaction and long-term happiness.
Project Podcast: Take-Aways for Parents and Teachers
After listening to the podcast, fill out our ‘Mentoring Resilience & Happiness’ questionnaire. And keep working on appreciating your gifts and appreciating children’s gifts. Compassion for yourself and the kids in your life can only make you and those around you happier and more resilient.
In the third installment of our resilience podcast series, Dr. Brooks explains his powerful metaphor, islands of competence (see this article on his site for a powerful story about a parent applying islands of competence in her life). As a strength-based model of psychology was starting to emerge, Dr. Brooks began to think about helping parents and children in terms of leading them out of the “sea of self-perceived inadequacy” onto an “island of competence.”
Project Podcast: Take-Aways for Teachers and Parents
After listening, ask yourself:
- What are my islands of competence? How can I change what I’m doing at home/in the classroom to highlight these strengths?
- What are my kids’/students’ islands of competence? How can I change what I’m doing at home/in the classroom to highlight these strengths?
- Share your ideas and plans for finding your and your kids’/students’ islands of competence through the “comments” function below and we can all learn from each other
In this second installment of our podcast series on resilience, Dr. Brooks and I discuss the importance of the “charismatic adult” in a child’s life (a term coined by Dr. Julius Segal — see this article or check out his Amazon bibliography for more info): that adult who believes in and stands by a child through adversity. Dr. Brooks traces his career path as he began to ask, “Why do some children who grow up under poverty and racism, undergo trauma, or face some other kind of adversity do well while others don’t?” In other words, he was shaping the science of resilience.
Project Podcast: Take-Aways for Teachers and Parents
After listening to the podcast, take a moment to ask yourself these questions:
- Who was the charismatic adult in your life? A parent? A teacher? A family friend? Several adults?
- Are you a charismatic adult for the children in your life? Do you say and do things that make children feel stronger or depleted?
- Have you observed — like Dr. Brooks — kids who have undergone adversity yet remain happy and well? How can you help other children in your life develop those traits of resilience?
For more in-depth discussion of how to raise resilient children, check out this article on Dr. Brooks’ website!
Welcome to our very first podcast. This series of podcasts will give parents and educators tips for leading a happier, healthier life. And we’re starting with Dr. Robert Brooks (see his website for an archive of helpful articles, info on speaking engagements, and lots of resources for parents and teachers), a psychologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, a world-renowned expert in childhood resilience, a national and international lecturer, and respected author of some extremely helpful and hopeful books (which you should check out!). Here Dr. Brooks talks a bit about his definition of resilience and why it is available not only to those who have been through traumatic events, but to everyone.
Project Podcast: Take-Aways for Teachers and ParentsRead More›