Happiness Tied Into Resilience, Positive Emotions

People have all kinds of beliefs in what will make them happy. They include money, success, great relationships, travel, friends and exercise. But the biggest key might really rest in resilience, the ability to bounce back.

In an article about the issue, Time magazine reported on scientific studies that have shown being resilient can lead to a happier life. As the magazine noted, resilience helps people “not only to get through hard times but to thrive during and after them. Just as rubber rebounds after being squeezed or squished, so do resilient people.”

The good news for people who have stress in their lives, such as caregivers, is that resilience is not a character trait. People aren’t born with resilience. Rather, it grows from the use of a set of skills that can be improved and strengthened over time.

Tips For Resilience

Time offered some tips on how to build resilience. They included the following.

  • Develop an unshakeable core set of beliefs
  • Look for meaning in stressful or traumatic events that happen to you
  • Maintain a positive outlook.
  • Look for guidance from someone you know who is especially resilient.
  • Face your fears rather than run from them
  • Don’t hesitate to reach out for support when needed
  • Always work to continuously learn new things
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid beating yourself up or dwelling on the past
  • Recognize the things that make you uniquely strong

Dwelling in the past is a problem faced by many, which is why it was included on the list. One thing to keep in mind is a saying often attributed to humorist Will Rogers: “Never let  yesterday use up too much of today.”

Focus on the Positive

It’s difficult when faced with routine stress and anxiety to build up the skills needed for resilience. One key is to change habits that can cause more negative emotions.

For example, a survey by NPR found that a majority of people said a constant intact of daily news fed their feelings of anxiety and ranked as one of their biggest sources of day-to-day stress. It’s important to be mindful of what you take into your mind on a day-to-day basis.

Whatever it is that causes extra stress should be reduced or eliminated.

Positive emotions help build resilience, according to a study published by the National Institutes of Health.  The study monitored the levels of happiness and resilience in people over the course of a month. A clear pattern emerged showing that positive emotions helped build resilience, which in turn led to more feelings of satisfaction and happiness.

Interestingly, the study found that positive, big picture evaluations of a person’s life did not necessarily lead to happiness, but rather the small moments of positivity that happen on a day-to-day basis, such as laughing with friends or doing something you enjoy.

The findings suggest “that it is in-the-moment positive emotions, and not more general positive evaluations of one’s life, that form the link between happiness and desirable life outcomes,” the study found.

Repeated positive emotions result in a “broaden and build” effect in which a series of positive emotions over time lead to building up resilience in the face of life’s challenges, as well as happiness and satisfaction.

The bottom line: consider the tips above and know that science has shown what most people already instinctively know. Dwelling on past mistakes or avoiding fears does not help you. Searching for positive experiences can build resilience and in turn make life that much more satisfying.

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