Scientists are discovering that while anger and hatred eat into our immune system, warm-heartedness and compassion are good for our health. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
There have been a number of studies that link the ‘negative’ emotions with stress and related health system difficulties. They have even gone so far as to show a link to our immune system and our ability not just to feel healthy, but to be healthy.
In an expected symmetry, there are studies which also show a link between an absence of the ‘negative’ emotions and an improvement in our levels of stress and general health. This health also went as far as to include our immune system, and our ability to remain healthy.
In short, science has proven what many have been saying for centuries and even millennia. Be positive, be happy, and it will help you be healthy. Avoid negative attitudes and emotions like hate and anger, for they are not helpful and can even be hurtful. Sounds pretty simple, right?
Why is staying positive important?
Well, what’s the other choice? Anyone plan to live the rest of their life being bitter, angry, and full of hate? While these people do exist, they are fairly rare. But if you’ve ever met someone like that, you really don’t need to be told that it’s not going to be good for the health, or personality.
And who wants to hang around with them? Not even the other people who are as negative want to be any where near them, right? So not only are the negative people feel lousy and do damage to their ability to fight off disease, they’re going to run off all their friends as well.
Positive people can, on rare occasions, be just as unpleasant to be with, but they are at least as rare as the terribly negative types. Be positive, and do what you can to avoid or minimize your hate and anger. Smile often, and be kind whenever you can.
Where can I apply this in my life?
So, does the lack of negative emotions cause good health, or does good health cause a lack of negative emotions? Since we can find healthy people with a bad attitude as well as sick people with a good attitude, there are obviously other factors at work.
It sounds kind of like a chicken or egg problem, and I’ll let the medical doctors and mental health specialists argue over that. What I do know is that our attitude and our emotions are something we have control over, and that it is something we can do while we await the results of the argument.
Something I hope we can agree on is that life is usually quite a bit more pleasant when we stick to the more positive emotions and attitudes than when we wallow in the negativity and negative emotions, right? Now all we have to figure out is why we go negative and how to quit doing it.
Do you know why you go negative? Most of us have been trained to react with anger to being called names. We have been trained to be mad when others cheat. But do those emotions help us? And are they even the best possible response, or do we do as we were trained, without examination, without thought?
Think about the times you tend to go to towards the negative emotions. What kind of things lead to that place? Grab some paper and write down a few of the things that help you turn to the negative emotions and feelings, towards anger and hate. Take a moment and think it through.
Now take a look at the list, and see if you can spot any patterns in what helps turn you to the dark side. Most of us have one or two things that take us there quickly, but are there others that have a similar pattern? I didn’t see a pattern, so I had to concentrate on myself, the only common denominator.
I was looking for a pattern because if you find something common between a series of behaviors, you can often lessen or even fix all of them by treating the common source. It’s worked fairly well for me, at least. What patterns did you see in yourself? What one change will make the most difference?
What if you changed it up and laughed at them when they called you names, instead of becoming angry? What if you felt pity for them instead of being angry? We are the ones who chose how we react to situations. While it might not be strictly normal to laugh when called names, it is an option.
The idea is to chose something that avoids the negative. Feel sorry for them, that the only way they can feel good about themselves is to try to make others feel bad. That is truly a pitiful person, right? Besides, it’s the last thing they would expect, so you get to change their world as well.
Just as we have been trained to react with negative emotions to certain circumstances (or patterns of circumstances), so too can we train ourselves to react in a positive manner instead. And we can work on our beliefs so that we can produce positive patterns.
As mentioned before, if you believe that people who say mean things about you or call you names are truly pitiful creatures, you don’t have to hate them or even get angry with them, right? What other beliefs can you adjust in your life to help you stay away from the negative and move towards the positive?
While we may never completely eliminate the negative feelings from our lives, we can work on maximizing the time we spend being positive. You can start as small or as large as you would like, but please start. The life you improve may well be you own!