We’ve all experienced downward spirals, in which dark emotions lead to destructive behavior that damages our health, strains our relationships, and leaves us feeling even worse than when we started. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an uplifting equivalent to that destructive chain of events?
Newly published research suggests there is. What’s more, this delightful dynamic helps explain the well-documented link between joy, appreciation, and good health.
“Positive emotion, positive social connections, and physical health influence one another in a self-sustaining, upward-spiral dynamic,” concludes a research team led by psychologist Bethany Kok of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences. It found upbeat emotions inspired by a meditative practice led to greater feelings of connectedness with others, which positively impacted “a biological resource that has been linked to numerous health benefits.”
In the journal Psychological Science, Kok and her colleagues describe a nine-week experiment featuring 65 participants, all faculty or staff members at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Two-thirds of the participants were women; their median age was 37.5.
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