We can all be happy....
“What a year! I’ve never been so unhappy, I’m skirting depression…”
How many of us feel like this, COVID has been devastating. But has it? In the 1940s life was a thousand times worse for people across Europe and for most readers of this blog, bombs aren’t falling and we live in solid buildings rather than tin and cardboard shacks. It’s not our fault we find it difficult, our brains have become so used to comfort that any little disruption unbalances us…. Somebody I know complained that their car isn’t fast or comfortable enough for a long journey, but it’s far, far better in both respects than my van, which I love.
A negative outlook does more damage than merely suppress our moods. The accumulation influences the limbic system, generating chemicals which gnaw at our body and brain. In various countries, large studies enduring up to 25 years have shown that those who are positive suffered less, indeed, over those 25 years they were 50% more likely to not to have died.
We can cope, just need to lift from the depressive mindset.
Research has shown that the reptilian brain, which deals with feeling, connects directly to our frontal lobe, the place where we think. This means thoughts and emotions influence each other, so if we shift our thoughts towards positivity, our emotions will gradually brighten, in other words, should we wish to, we have the power to change our lives.
Many studies have shown that elderly people who are happy suffer less from dementia. Happiness is also equated to greater resilience, better physical and mental performance and, don't forget, a longer life*. Do we need more to convince us to change?
So how do we do this? Making regular moments when time stands still, stringing these together. Spending time with loved ones; sharing joyous pursuits. Engaging in meaningful activity; celebrating our accomplishments, and of course getting ample exercise. Each of these release positive chemicals.
We feel better when we matter to others, when our life is worthwhile, and even better when we are concerned for future generations. Purpose, it turns out, is as crucial as exercise and diet for our general wellbeing, and there can be no greater purpose nor legacy than joining others in helping to saving a little bit of this precious Planet from our destructivity. Need I say any more?
* Obviously, bugs and beasts and random events can suddenly change even the best of lives, but that's the way it is (says a man whose life was 'destroyed' and even then we can generally be content.)