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Report: Down economy calls for "up" attitude (3/27)

March 27, 2009
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Tough economic times are the perfect setting to practice the principles of positive psychology, says a new report from Harvard Medical School. Positive Psychology: Harnessing the power of happiness, personal strength, and mindfulness describes positive psychology concepts and teaches how to put positive emotions to work in your life.

Numerous scientific studies have linked positive emotions with better health, longer life, and greater well-being, according to Harvard Health Publications. At the other end of the spectrum, chronic anger, worry, and hostility increase the risk of developing heart disease by boosting blood pressure and stiffening blood vessels. A 2005 Harvard School of Public Health study found that people who were generally hopeful were less likely to develop hypertension, diabetes, or respiratory tract infection than those who were less hopeful.

Included in Positive Psychology are vital techniques for enhancing well-being and savoring the positive aspects of your life. They include:

Single task. Multitasking is the enemy of savoring. If you’re walking the dog on a beautiful path but checking your phone for messages, you’re missing the moment. Don’t pile on so much stimulation that you dilute your ability to enjoy it.

Celebrate. Don’t keep the good moments of life to yourself. Let yourself be happy when you complete a project or when something goes well. Savor your accomplishments.

Slow down. Time affluence—having the time to enjoy your life and participate in the activities you want—predicts happiness better than monetary affluence. Try to eliminate some of the less enjoyable ways you spend your time, so you can enjoy the pleasurable experiences in your day without rushing.

Simplify. Too many options can actually diminish your pleasure.

Share the moment. Inviting someone else to share an activity can enhance the pleasure. Together you can relish the sunset, symphony, or ski run.

Positive Psychology also discusses:
  • Using your personal strengths
  • Developing gratitude
  • Becoming more engaged through “flow”
Positive Psychology: Harnessing the power of happiness, personal strength, and mindfulness is available for $18 from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School. Order it online at www.health.harvard.edu/PP or by calling 877–649–9457 (toll-free).

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