Many people try to maintain a healthy lifestyle, since it is the one thing that affects the standard and quality of life most. However, people grow up in a society, where it is not as easy to maintain healthy well-being, due to various reasons, such as diseases, poor eating habits and depending on the country of choice – health-care coverage.
Being in good health promotes a better livelihood and lifestyle, and people have the capacity to be more active and feel better; therefore it is undoubtedly an issue that needs to be further investigated in order for people to become better in preserving and improving their own well-being.
Nowadays, most people tend to think about health in terms of only their physical state, or being responsible and careful when it comes to the food they are eating, the exercise they are doing and avoiding detrimental habits such as eating unhealthy food, smoking, and drug and alcohol abuse. However, as define by the World Health Organization, “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO, 2012).
Thus people need to realize and focus on mental and social health just as much as they focus on their physical one. In the past decades, many researchers have become more focused on the mental and emotional health in order for people to maintain a healthy lifestyle that leads to success.
Being optimistic and attaining a more positive attitude are some of the suggestions that this paper makes in order to improve one’s emotional health. Self-perception, success, optimism and happiness are the factors that will be further discussed. Happiness as the input, rather than the outcome
Many people tend to believe that only after they have a successful career and earn a lot of money, can they be happy and content. However, recent research has shown that people who are happy to begin with, are more likely to work harder for their goals and thus attract others with their energy and optimism, which are key factors for building success.
According to a research done by the American Psychological Association (APA), people who are generally content tend to be more successful in achieving their life goals, as oppose to people who perceive happiness as the outcome, rather than the input, of having large amounts of money or the desired career.
This research suggested that once people develop a happy mind-set and go about their daily duties with this attitude, they not only attract similar people and resources, but are also more likely to actively work on their goals, thus accomplishing them easily. People, who on average feel happier, have been found to improve personal characteristics such as confidence and being optimistic, which in turns act as a fuel for success, be that career-wise or in personal aspects such as marriage, friendship and health (Lyubomirsky & King, 2005).
This can be explained, by the fact that once a person is content with what they have, their brain signals them that life is going in the direction they want and their desires are being met. Once the brain acknowledges this content of life, the mind-set of a person starts to develop a larger propensity to expand, and thus urges the person to become more opportunistic and goal-oriented.
The results from Lyuobomirsky and King’s research (2005), which involves cross-sectional, longitudinal and experimental designs, have found that this positive perception has led to more success in people’s work, relationships, and thus emotional health. Furthermore, adapting such mind-set has shown to lead to a more positive self-perception and higher levels of sociability and creativity.
Another research, done by the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) has found that psychological well-being is a key factor for the long-term health of a person (Rowley, 2012). A study was done of 10,000 British people over the age of 50, which pointed out that those with lowest levels of life-content have the highest risk of developing diseases. Factors, such as low levels of stress and strong social networks were among the top reasons for making people happy with their lives (Rowley, 2012).
Once again, we see that the importance lays on the emotional status of a person, which in turns is determined by what makes one happy. Maintaining optimistic attitude
Many scientists make a case that being positive and having an optimistic attitude help people feel more content with their lives and thus maintaining a better emotional health. A large amount of books have been published in recent times, which promote optimism, such as “The Secret”. The book makes a strong case that ‘the secret’ to successful and happy life lays within this universal law, which is as strong as any natural law we experience on earth, such as for instance the law of gravity.
The so called “law of attraction”, states that people’s thoughts and feelings have the capacity and strength to dictate one’s life, by attracting experiences and situations that are in sync with what they think (Byrne, 2006). It goes on to explain the importance and effect of positive thinking on creating life-changing results, such attaining wealth, health and happiness.
The law does not account for who believes in it or who does not; therefore even if one is not to believe in “the secret”, with his negative thoughts he is likely to attract negative occurrences into his own life. Once people learn to maintain optimistic attitude, they attract situations that are on the same frequency as their thoughts and feelings (Byrne, 2006). Thus, optimism and positive thinking make up for another important factor, which has a big influence on our over-all well-being, and especially on our emotional health. The importance of Self-perception
While the previously discussed researches shed light on self-perception and its importance to the emotional health, one needs to look further into the topic to understand the effects of it. Self-perception and the way others perceive us, is vital for a developing and maintaining a happy mindset. Many times, people start to experience self-esteem issues that prevent them from developing a happy mentality.
Some become overly narcissistic, while others lack self- confidence. Recent studies have emerged on the topic of “self-compassion”, many of which draw upon and discuss an old Buddhist idea that people have to be kind not only to each other, but also to their own selves (Weir, 2011) . Self-compassion has been seen by many as an exercise to combat self-esteem issues, especially when one tends to be overly-judgmental towards his own actions.
People have the tendency to give good advice to those close to them, but rarely do they apply them on their own. When something happens to a friend, people usually say something along the lines of “Don’t worry! It’ll be fine”; however, when we assimilate a situation that has just happened to us, we become more judgmental towards our own actions, which in turns could lead to negative mind-set and becoming more insecure of ourselves (Weir, 2011).
A study examining this occurrence, suggests that people who develop their self-compassion, become more understanding of themselves and those that surround them. Furthermore, it stresses the importance of the balance between self-criticism and self-compassion, since too much self-compassion can turn into self-pity – a characteristic detrimental for the emotional health (Weir, 2011). Making progress
This science behind happiness and psychology has been largely popularized in recent times. The directors of the ‘Girls Scouts of the USA’ have developed the “Science of Happiness” badge, which aims at raising awareness throughout young girls about maintaining a happy attitude (Wojcik, 2012).
The requirements for attaining this badge include tasks, such as writing lists of things that make them happy, creating a box of memories and souvenirs, and writing in a journal for future plans they might have. Through these activities they are urging the girl scouts to be more creative, positive and goal-oriented.
The psychologist behind the idea of the badge has stated that through the tasks, he hopes, young girls will learn to control their thoughts and feelings, which in turns will help them deal easily with problems in their life later on (Wojcik, 2012). What is suggested by many scientists to improve our overall emotional well-being, besides learning to be more content and develop positive thinking, is to learn to express gratitude and being more self-compassionate (Lyubomirsky & King, 2005)
Others suggest methods such as sports for the brain. Compassionate meditation is one of those sports that help people clear their minds of worries and keep in touch with their inner feelings. It is suggested by researchers that the program of this meditation improves a person’s ability to read the emotions of others and becoming more empathetic towards others (Nauert, 2012). Conclusion
Overall, more research is needed on the subject of emotional health. While people focus on their physical health, new studies suggest that the emotional health bares just as much significance of one’s long-term health. Maintaining a happy attitude and being content when we deal with day-to-day life, helps us become more goal-oriented and creative.
Factors, such as learning how to control our thoughts and feelings and keeping them positive will attract instances of the same frequency; therefore having an optimistic mind-set can make up for large changes in a person’s life, leading to success, wealth and health. Finally, exercising self-compassion and especially keeping it in balance with self-criticism is vital for a person’s development and how others perceive one.
For further research, people need to focus on raising more and more awareness about emotional health, not only throughout adults, but also throughout children, for it can help for building a new and improved basis of a better health system.
Bibliography:* Byrne, R. (2006). The secret. New York: Atria Books* Lyubomirsky, S., & King, L. (2005). The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success?.Psychological Bulletin, 131. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/bul-1316803.pdf * Nauert, R. (2012, October 5). Compassionate Meditation Can Boost Empathy.Psychcentral. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/10/05/compassionate-meditation-can-boost-empathy/45612.html
* Rowley, L. (2012, October 15). Happiness: Study Suggests Well-Being, Or Lack Of It, Can Predict Illness and Death. The Huffington Post, pp. -. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/15/happiness-longevity_n_1968158.html * Weir, K. (2011). Golden Rule Redux.Science Watch, 42. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/07-08/golden-rule.aspx * Wojcik, E. (2012).
Girl Scouts’ ‘Science of Happiness’ badge promotes positive psychology. Monitor on Psychology, 43. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/01/girl-scouts.aspx * World Health Organization. (n.d.). WHO. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from www.who.int/en/