YOUR HAPPINESS IS IN YOUR HANDS
Does happiness depend on what we have ? or does it depend on how we see what we have ? So is it the world that makes us happy or is it we who make ourselves happy in a situation.
To answer this question, researchers did an interesting experiment with over 600 nuns. They took these nuns when they were an average age of 83 (ranging from 75 to 102) and then asked them for their diaries which they had written in their 20s. They measured how positive the diary entries were and then compared it with the mental health of the nuns and how long they lived. They measured each diary entry on mentions of positivity like accomplishment, amusement, contentment, gratitude, happiness, hope, interest, love, and relief and also on the negative emotions of anger, contempt, disgust, disinterest, fear, sadness, and shame; and the neutral emotion of surprise.
Incredibly the mortality or death rate of those who had low positive emotions in their diaries was 3- 4 times those of the nuns who had the highest positive emotions. The nuns donated their brains to research after their death. Again the brains of the happiest nuns were free from disease. By age 85, 90% of most cheerful quartile were alive but only 34% of least cheerful quartile alive. By Age 94 it became even more stark – 54% of most cheerful quartile alive while 11% of least cheerful quartile alive.
What does this tell us ? Most of the nuns lead very similar lives in the convents. They were unmarried, had friends among the convent and had similar work routines. Their assignments were similar and a lot of them spent their entire life in the service of the lord. Yet, how they saw the very same events made a huge difference to both their health and their longevity.
So if you have a choice, you can choose to become a fault finder or a merit finder. You can find in every event the bad reason why it happened or the good that it gave you. For instance a divorce can either be blamed on an uncaring partner or be the experience that teaches one compassion and kindness.
What is very clear is that how we think about everyday determines our happiness and our lifespan.
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