The Nun’s Story
In a longitudinal study of nuns, researchers studied their auto-biographical sketches written in the 1930s. They discovered that 90% of those who expressed the most positive emotions , who wrote about feelings of happiness and “eager joy” were alive and well at age 85, compared to only 34% of the least cheerful quarter.
Barbara Frederickson, winner of the Templeton Positive Psychology Prize in 2000 conducted a series of experiments, in which she caused participants to experience positive emotions , and then discovered that they were better, speedier, and more creative in solving problems than those who did not experience the positive emotions. She concluded that positive emotions have a purpose in evolution in that they broaden our intellectual, physical and social resources, building up reserves which we draw upon when a threat or opportunity presents itself.
Fredrickson points out that happy people have a ratio of 3 positive to 1 negative experience!
According to Sonya Lyubomisrsky, happiness researcher, “ the ability to savour the positive experiences in our lives is one of the most important ingredients in happiness”.
It turns out that there is very little difference in the amount of positive experiences vs negative experiences that happy people have, compared to people who are more depressed but that happy people have somehow learned to savour, deepen or potentiate more the positive experiences. If this is some thing you have not learned to do naturally, The “Take the Steps”course aims to re-wire your brain to do just that.
Or, as Thornton Wilder once put it, “my advice to you is not to enquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it is on your plate.” But which we seem to lose as we “mature”. Being in the moment is of course the aim of meditation and life practice at the heart of the yoga and zen traditions.( see page on meditation)