Life Rewards Action

Depending on your personal beliefs the idea that Life rewards action could also be stated as the Universe rewards action or God rewards action. Regardless of how you perceive the world it has been proven to me over and over again that action is the key. This is not only true of my own life but also of the many people I have known over the years. If you have ever felt stuck in a difficult life situation it can be confusing and overwhelming as to how to move forward. That is how to “take action”.

The action I am talking about is not just physical, it can be a mental or emotional action. Sometimes when we are feeling stuck we are so focused on the problem and how we think it can be fixed that we are not open to other possibilities. Taking action can be simply a change of attitude. An openness to all possibilities even if they don’t make sense at the time or you are worried that it won’t work. There are no guarantees in life and there are many paths to the same destination. However, one thing is true in every situation “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. When your back is against the wall the only thing you can do is move forward. Action is the key.

I clearly remember sitting in an A.A meeting and the speaker stated, when talking about depression, “ the only depression in your life is the one your backside has left on the seat you sit in all day long, get up and do something” . While those words may sound harsh, particularly as genuine depression is an illness, they also contained some wisdom. Do something? What do I do? The late Harry S Truman is quoted as saying “Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction.” Think about that statement for a while. Let it sink in and think about what action you could take today. Could you apply for that job even though you don’t meet all the selection criteria, could you ask that person out for coffee even though you think they may say no. It is all about momentum. If you have ever helped push a stalled or broken-down car you know that the most effort required is at the start. Once you get it moving it requires much less effort to keep it moving.

Finally let me add, I believe there are no absolutes in life. While writing this post I briefly switched to Facebook as I was waiting on a message from a friend. The following picture appeared in my news-feed. When things don’t go to plan just try and laugh and keep on trying.

Taking Action

Clearly this man took action without the desired outcome. Still he did keep himself busy and got a good upper body workout 🙂

Wishing you all the best in your journey

Phil Miranda

The Health Benefits of Feeling Good

We all know how good it is to feel positive emotions. Studies have found that people who spend more time feeling good are more likely to live longer and with less illness. Much of the benefit of positive emotions stems from the direct effect on the nervous system in lower levels of stress hormones, which are essential for survival in the face of danger but can be harmful long term. Feeling good also tends to result in less unhealthy coping mechanisms such as overeating, smoking, harmful drug or alcohol abuse etc.

So why do negative emotions seem so much easier to produce and are often more intense than positive emotions. Evolutionary psychology asserts that negative emotions such as fear or anger elicit changes in the body’s autonomous nervous system that are relevant to survival. The fight, flight or freeze response is automatic and prepares the body for survival in the face of danger. This was particularly relevant in the past when our ancestors faced many life-threatening situations on a regular basis. Most people today are not faced with survival challenges every day, at least not to the same degree or intensity of our ancestors. Unfortunately, our brains often can’t tell the difference between a survival situation and what is just an undesirable situation.

Robert Schrauf, an associate professor of applied linguistics and an anthropologist at Penn State suggests we have more words to express negative emotions than positive ones. Schrauf suggests that this also stems from an evolutionary standpoint. It appears we are hardwired to pay more attention to negative emotions because they keep us safe and enhance survival. Does this mean we are slaves to our emotional brains? Not necessarily. Outside of conditions like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) we still have some control over our emotions.

If you are experiencing a negative emotion such as sadness or fear due to an obvious external source, then it makes sense to accept your feelings as a natural response and seek support if required. The problem arises when we interpret certain life events as life threatening and allow our emotions to run wild. I have written previously (What if there is nothing wrong with you?) about how thoughts and the meaning we attach to events create our emotions. If you are experiencing negative emotions for no obvious reason, then it can be helpful to examine and challenge the thoughts you are having at the time.

The good news is that positive emotions can reduce the effects of stress on the body. According to Barbara Fredrickson there is a “undoing effect” which was observed in her research on The Value of Positive Emotions. Fredrickson suggests feeling positive emotions regularly has a “upward spiral” of continued growth and thriving. Positive emotions can also flow onto other individuals and the general community. Think about how acts of compassion and kindness have a flow on effect through the community. Feeling good not only helps the individual but also society.

Cultivating positive emotions can be achieved directly by seeking out experiences that feel good. Humour and laughter are two good examples. Yet even in the face of adversity finding meaning and appreciation for help received can cultivate love and gratitude. Like most things in life cultivating positive emotions requires a degree of conscious effort. However, research suggests that the benefits are certainly worth the effort for both your physical and mental health.

Wishing you all the best in your journey

Phil Miranda

Study: Negative Words Dominate Language
The Value of Positive Emotions- Barbara L. Fredrickson