We have probably all had those days were everything seems to downward spiral . . . we oversleep which leads to us being late for work . . . the boss is mad . . . we get a headache . . . we yell at a loved one. One negative emotion seems to create the next.
The good news is that we can also create upward spirals. Daniel Goleman, in his book Social Intelligence
, talks about mirror neurons that fire in response to observing behavior or emotions in others. Simply said, mood is contagious. If you doubt it - watch this video of twins laughing @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7mOzWQSnaQ
I show this video to my granddaughter when she is grumpy . . . she usually ends up laughing. Because our brains want to mimic the emotion of those around us.
In his book Flourish, Martin Seligman talks about the five constructs of wellbeing, and one of those is positive emotion. It has long been said that laughter is the best medicine - and now we are beginning to learn that our immune systems respond to the chemistry of laughter (and positive emotion) - in a positive way; an upward spiral.
For the past week, I have had a little upper respiratory virus. Or at least it felt little . . . until I had an unexpected dealing with someone who is, in my perception, pretty unhappy in life. And she tends to spread it - people feel drained. My symptoms got worse - chills, fever, exhaustion.
When I began to feel just a touch better - I made a choice to create some positive emotion. I attended a wonderful community performance of Nutcracker (being very careful about covering my cough and washing my hands, of course). As I watched the dancers on stage, I also took note of my symptoms. I was breathing easier than I had in days - as the crowd happily cheered on the talented dancers in their bright costumes.
I considered staying home and finishing up some work. But I knew that a little jump start might be what I needed to create an upward spiral. Today . . . I feel some better. My mood and energy are definitely improved. It reminds me of advice I received from a physician colleague years ago - that is, when it comes to minor viruses, bedrest is overrated. I would add that positive emotion may be underrated when it comes to improving our wellness.
When was the last time you felt an upward spiral of positive emotion in your life? And, how did this impact your health?
Cathy Hartt, RN, MS, CNM
Midwife of Changes Wellbeing Coaching Services
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