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The Benefits of Positive Emotions

September 26th, 2016 · No Comments

This article is in our series about increasing happiness and life satisfaction.  Many people with chronic pain can’t decrease their pain.  So another way to live a more enjoyable and fulfilling life – perhaps even more important – is to increase the positive.  That’s what we’ll be looking at in this series.

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Our brains are more likely to focus on the “negative”:

  • anxiety makes us try to prevent something harmful from happening
  • fear makes us run away or fight
  • sadness makes us try to fix a bad situation

Evolutionarily, our focus on the negative made our survival more likely – we stored enough food because we were anxious about having enough, and we ran away from the lion.

Do positive emotions help us in any way?  What do happiness, joy, laughter, and calm do for us?

Well, lots!  When feeling good, we:

  • handle problems more positively
  • are more creative
  • are more accurate in our assessment of negative information
  • have better health
  • are more productive
  • enjoy more social involvement

But don’t take my word for it.  This week, your assignment is to notice what’s different when you are happy.  Are you more creative – for example, in your artwork or solving a problem?  Are you more able to look at a challenge realistically and come up with a solution, instead of getting into a downward spiral of worry?  Is your heart rate lower?  Do you hang out with friends and family more?

Look at this week as a researcher would – see what you notice and share it in the comments.

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Notice What Makes You Happy

September 19th, 2016 · 1 Comment

This article is in our series about increasing happiness and life satisfaction.  Many people with chronic pain can’t decrease their pain.  So another way to live a more enjoyable and fulfilling life – perhaps even more important – is to increase the positive.  That’s what we’ll be looking at in this series.

Image result for happiness

Last week I asked you, based on your own life, what you think the things are that go into a happy life.  Initially you might have said travel around the world and lots of chocolate.  Or winning the lottery and marrying a gorgeous partner.  Or perhaps you might think you have to avoid everything that’s negative – have no pain or stress.

Nope.

This week, I want you to pay attention each day to what makes you happiest.  Please share what you find each day in the comments.

You can also take this Emotions Questionnaire to score your happiness.

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What Makes You Happy?

September 12th, 2016 · 7 Comments

This article is in our series about increasing happiness and life satisfaction.  Many people with chronic pain can’t decrease their pain.  So another way to live a more enjoyable and fulfilling life – perhaps even more important – is to increase the positive.  That’s what we’ll be looking at in this series.

Image result for happiness

Last week, I invited you to take a very short happiness quiz to see where you are currently.  Before we begin a series of exercises to see what helps you most to increase your happiness, what do you believe makes up a happy life?  Both research and different cultures say that a collection of things helps people be happy.  From your own life, what do you think they are?

Please share your answers in the comments.

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Increasing Your Happiness

September 6th, 2016 · No Comments

Greetings in the Fall after a hot, relaxing summer.  This Fall, I’m going to be writing about increasing happiness from the perspective of positive psychology.  I hope you’ll follow along and try some of the exercises!

Image result for happiness

Positive psychology looks at ways to promote happiness and life satisfaction.  It differs from what has been the main focus of psychiatry and psychology, which has been to study and treat mental illness.

I believe this focus is very important for people with chronic pain.  I talk with my patients about 2 main ways to live a more enjoyable and fulfilling life.  One, of course, is to decrease pain – lessen the negative in your life.  This website presents many, many ways to do that (here, here and here, for example).  Unfortunately for many of us, reaching lower pain levels may not be possible.  We’re stuck with chronic pain – sometimes at high levels.

So another main way to increase happiness and satisfaction is to focus on increasing the positive, rather than decreasing the negative.  Positive psychology does that.

Research in positive psychology tells us that what will make us happier is:

  • practicing gratitude
  • challenging our negative thoughts
  • increasing optimism
  • adding pleasures to our lives (even simple things like morning coffee and flowers on our desk)
  • increasing our enjoyment of these pleasures by using mindfulness, sharing with others and remembering enjoyable things

Our life satisfaction can be increased by:

  • using our “core strengths” every day
  • being part of something bigger to increase meaning in our lives

So before we jump into, I’d invite you to take a very short happiness quiz to see where you are currently.   (It is from the Penn Authentic Happiness website.  You may need to register to access the quiz.)

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Inspirational Quote: Be Kind, We’re All Facing Challenges

August 29th, 2016 · No Comments

This is the last week of the summer, and our last week of inspirational quotes.  You’re invited to share what this one means to you below in the comments, and to copy it down and carry it with you, for perspective and a pick-me-up when things are tough.

“Many people expend tremendous energy to hide their pain, poor health or problems just to function in this world  Be kind, we’re all fighting some kind of battle.”

Coming up in September are ways to increase happiness, based on the research of positive psychology.  Let’s get excited!

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Inspirational Quotes: Trying Again, Every Day

August 22nd, 2016 · 1 Comment

For the rest of the summer, I’m sharing some inspirational quotes with you.  I’d love to hear what they mean to you.  You’re also invited to copy them down and carry them with you each week, for perspective and a pick-me-up when things are tough.

“Living with chronic pain is making a choice every day to get up and put your wings back on, and try again and again.”

Have your own favorite quote?  Please share it with me here and I may use it as our inspirational quote one week.

Coming up in September are ways to increase happiness, based on the research of positive psychology.  Let’s get excited!

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Miracles Emerging

August 15th, 2016 · No Comments

For the rest of the summer, I’m sharing some inspirational quotes with you.  I’d love to hear what they mean to you.  You’re also invited to copy them and carry them with you each week for perspective and a pick-me-up when things are tough.

“Out of difficulties grow miracles.”

Have your own favorite quote?  Please share it with me here and I may use it as our inspirational quote one week.

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Something Good in Every Day

August 8th, 2016 · 1 Comment

For the rest of the summer, I’m sharing some inspirational quotes with you.  I’d love to hear what they mean to you.  You’re also invited to copy them and carry them with you each week for perspective and a pick-me-up when things are tough.

“Everyday may not be good, but there is something good in Everyday.”

Have your own favorite quote?  Please share it with me here and I may use it as our inspirational quote one week.

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Inspirational Quote: Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

August 1st, 2016 · No Comments

For the rest of the summer, I’m sharing some inspirational quotes with you.  I’d love to hear what they mean to you.  You’re also invited to copy them and carry them with you each week for perspective and a pick-me-up when things are tough.  Today’s quote was suggested by Irving.

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career.  I’ve lost almost 300 games.  26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot…and missed.  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.     ~ Michael Jordan

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Have your own favorite quote?  Please share it with me here and I may use it as our inspirational quote one week.

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“Take Control of Your Pain” Expo

July 27th, 2016 · No Comments

The Midwest “Take Control of Your Pain” Educational Expo is coming up in August.  The event will be Saturday August 13, in Northbrook, Illinois.  For more info:

“Take Control of Your Pain” Educational Expo

Image result for take control of your pain educational expo

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