There is considerable scientific information that maintaining a positive approach to life has many health benefits. More positive people live longer and have healthier lives. Individuals with positive outlooks are troubled by fewer chronic diseases, less depression or anxiety than those with a negative perspective.
Approach to life and attitude about it is tinted or even established by our emotions. And guess what, we can manage what emotions we are feeling. Our bodies react to a remarkable extent to our emotional stance. Stress and the long-term detriment it brings from stress hormones are lessened with our emotions.
There is little meaning discoverable in life without emotions. Still, few have made efforts to define them, let alone how to improve them and especially how to keep emotions rational. There are almost endless numbers of emotions because there are virtually limitless ways we may feel about what we encounter or contemplate. However, Paul Ekman, a noted psychologist, identified six basic emotions: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise. In my opinion, the emotion that gives the most positive uplift to mood is GRATITUDE.
What characterizes the different emotions? William James stated anger represents slights, fear represents dangers, shame represents failures to live up to an ego ideal, sadness represents losses, happiness represents progress towards goal achievement, pride represents the enhancement of one’s ego identity.
Naturally, emotions are part of one’s humanity and are necessary, but they must be controlled. It must be remembered we have a conscious and an unconscious self to control. The James-Lange psychological theory proposes that the conscious self is informed about what to feel emotionally by physical actions; we frown or cry and begin to feel sad, or we smile or laugh and feel happy. Our conscious brain can take charge to smile and laugh more often. Also, we start to frown less and resolve not to get angry without thinking whether anger is worth the cost to our well-being.
A great deal of damage can result from extremes of emotion and it is best to decide to control the two chief emotions: anger and happiness. Surplus happiness can spiral into euphoria that can result in behaviors that humiliate. Even worse, anger can spiral out of control into a frenzied rage. Even if one is alone, non-reconcilable behaviors can emerge. MODERATION!
Maintain a happy countenance and you will look better and younger. In a study, subjects were asked to estimate the age and emotional state of pictures in groups of the same people either smiling or frowning. Subjects so tested considered smilers were more likable and younger to a significant extent.
When you feel an emotion erupting, make it a practice to hesitate and consider what it means and what your reaction should be in response. Anger hurts the angry person because stress hormones are released. I have simply developed a “so what the heck” attitude in all cases unless my health or a loved one’s health are threatened and that is extremely rare.