According to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, “taking in spine-tingling wonders as the Grand Canyon, Sistine Chapel ceiling or Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria’” may boost the body’s defence system.
To check the role that positive emotions play on the body, the researchers conducted two experiments where more than 200 young adults had to report the extent to which they experienced emotions - amusement, awe, contentment, love, pride - on a given day. Samples of gum and cheek tissue were then taken from the subjects.
Those who experienced more positive emotions - in particular, those relating to awe and amazement - had lower levels of cytokines. Sustained high levels of cytokines are linked to health problems such as Type II diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease. The study was published in Emotions journal in January this year.
Even if you don’t have a forest in the neighbourhood or are less inclined towards art, you can keep up with positive thoughts and emotions in small ways:
• Keep a gratitude journal and chronicle what you feel thankful for each day.
Being thankful can help to counterbalance and even release the often-overwhelming feelings of negativity.
• Help someone out and spread the positivity.
Taking away the focus on yourself can remove your microscopic perspective and obsession on the negative aspects of things.
• Get out and do a novel activity you’ve always wanted to do.
When you sign up for that muay thai class or hike up that seemingly impossible mountain with a friend, these firsttime events can be testament to the strength of your new motivation and create amazing memories that you can look back at with a smile.
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock. This article first appeared in NATURA magazine issue No.12.