Each week, Live Happy Radio presents #HappyFacts designed to enlighten, educate and entertain you. Here’s a look at what we’re talking about this week:
Give your dark side a hug
If you want to be happier, try embracing some of your less-pleasant emotions. While we tend to want to focus on emotions that bring out our best, there’s actually great personal benefit to exploring the not-so-pleasant emotions, such as sadness, anger and even contempt.
According to Maya Tamir, Ph.D., a psychology professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, learning to accept negative emotions as a normal part of our life can help boost our happiness.
Maya’s recent study, The Secret to Happiness: Feeling Good or Feeling Right?, dispels the notion that being happy requires feeling more positive emotion and instead finds that feeling the appropriate emotion is most important. In fact, feeling our negative emotions can help us be happier, because we’re being more honest and authentic with ourselves.
So go ahead, let yourself get mad or be sad—you’ll be glad you did!
For a happier marriage, thank your spouse
Gratitude has many proven benefits, but did you know it could even put some passion back in your marriage?
It all comes down to a scientific formula, which doesn’t sound very sexy, but hear us out: research shows that when passion begins to wane in a relationship, so does appreciation.
This creates a sort of downward spiral, and when the number of negative expressions—such as disapproval and sarcasm—surpass the number of positive expressions (like encouragement and appreciation), it usually spells trouble. (And that trouble is often spelled D-I-V-O-R-C-E.)
The good news is that practicing gratitude can help turn that gradual fizzle back into a full-on sizzle. As you find things to appreciate about your spouse or partner, your brain will automatically start looking for more things you’re grateful for about him or her. This can offset our natural tendency to look at what’s wrong and retrain us to focus on what’s right.
While it might take a little effort at first (that’s why it’s called a “practice”), your expression of gratitude will quickly start coming more easily. And, studies show, along with increased gratitude will come increased passion. Can you think of a better reason to say “thank you”?
Dance forward, age backwards
Exercise is good for staving off some of the effects of aging, but could dancing reverse aging? Research from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases finds that while both endurance training and dancing benefited elderly study participants, dancing had a noticeable positive effect on their balance.
The dancing group faced new challenges each week as they were given new dance routines to learn, while the endurance group performed repetitive exercises like cycling or Nordic walking. Both groups showed increased activity in the hippocampus, which is a key part of learning and memory, but the recall required by the dancing group to remember dance routines proved to have a far-reaching benefit.
Researchers say this could provide promising information to help offset individual risk factors and delay age-related decline.
So next time you feel like getting up and moving, instead of putting on your walking shoes, maybe you should put on your boogie shoes.
What do you appreciate the most about your spouse or significant other?