Your emotional state of mind has a powerful effect on your state of health. Most of the past studies on this subject have focused on the negative effects linked between the two. Now at last, scientists are looking at the health benefits derived from a positive emotional state.
Being compassionate is good for the heart and stomach
Feeling compassion is to have love and concern for other people. A good
example of a compassionate state of mind is expressed by the traditional
Buddhist practice of loving-kindness meditation (LKM). LKM is a form of
meditation in which you focus love and compassion on yourself and a
progressively sizeable group of other people as well.
A study was conducted by psychologist Barbara Frederickson to study
the positive impacts from six weeks of LKM training. The findings showed
that participants who had practiced LKM had a positive effect on the
resting tone of their vagus nerve. This nerve extends from the brain
stem down to the heart. It plays a role in the regulation of emotions
and the digestive and cardiovascular systems.
“In a way, our bodies are designed for love, because the more we love, the more healthy we become,” said Frederickson.
Feelings of joyfulness and wonder reduce inflammatory markers
Feelings of joyfulness, wonder, and awe can give us a sense of
connection with something that seems greater than ourselves. Whether it
is through religious experiences or witnessing unparalleled natural
beauty, the sensation benefits our bodies by lowering inflammatory
from the University of California, Berkeley found that participants who
had recently felt a sense of awe had decreased levels of cytokines.
These cytokines are inflammatory markers that in chronically elevated
levels are sometimes an indicator of autoimmune diseases, heart disease,
depression, and Alzheimer’s. So it is conceivable that experiencing awe
can help prevent some diseases.
“Rather than seeing a walk through the park or a trip to the museum
as an indulgence, we hope people will view these kinds of experiences as
important ways to promote a healthy body in addition to a healthy
mind,” explained co-author Dr. Jennifer Stellar, Ph.D.
Being optimistic is good for your heart
True optimism is about more than having a smile on your face. Having an
optimistic state of mind allows you to look beyond the challenges and
obstacles you face by believing that eventually things will work out in
A 2012 review of scientific studies on optimistic personalities and
cardiovascular risks revealed a correlation between optimism and
decreased risks for cardiovascular events. Another recent study on
Twitter posts found a correlation between heart attack deaths and the
frequency of Twitter posts with negative language. Optimism is also
linked with longer life spans and improved immune system functions.
Gratefulness can boost the immune system
“Thousands of years of literature talk about the benefits of cultivating
gratefulness as a virtue,” said psychology professor, Robert Emmons
from the University of California, Davis. “Grateful people take better
care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like
regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular physical examinations.”
An outlook of gratitude has been linked with improved immune system
function and better quality of sleep. It can also reduce levels of
stress, which is a factor in many chronic diseases.
-The Alternative Daily