There is a belief, that the islanders in the Solomon Islands of the pacific practice a special form of curse ritual.
If a tree needs to be felled and if it happens to be too big, then, the Islanders stand around it and curse it. This negative energy, allegedly damages the tree’s life energy, so after about 30 days of getting cursed the tree believably wilts and falls to the ground.
Now, if a mighty tree, which can brave the vagaries of nature, in all its fury, for hundreds of years, can just wilt under negativity, imagine what could happen to a human being when they are constantly criticised or belittled.
Every emotion activates a chemical response in your body. Positive emotions cause the production of 'feel good' hormones, while negative emotions produces 'stress' hormones. When one is constantly dumped with toxic feelings like anger, threat, disgust or contempt, the result is chronic stress. This activates the secretion of the required stress hormones, causing unnatural inflammation in the system, which, has been scientifically proven to be the root cause of many life-threatening diseases.
Let’s look at the study conducted in 1930s, as part of which 180 Catholic nuns were asked to write personal essays about their lives. They described certain enlightening events from their childhood.
Almost six decades later, three psychologists, Deborah Danner, David Snowdon and Wallace Friesen of the University of Kentucky reviewed the nun’s essays as part of a larger study, scoring them for positive emotional content, recording instances of happiness, interest, love and hope.
What they found was outstanding, the nuns who expressed the most positive emotions lived up to 10 years longer than those who expressed the least. In other words, what was significantly present in the study was a direct correlation between positivity and longevity. So, in the first instance we saw destruction caused by negative emotions and in the second we observed constructive life enhancing qualities of positive emotions.
While we cannot completely eliminate negativity in our lives, for without it we might not be able to survive. We have to make sure to build in more positive emotions so that we derive more physiological and psychological benefits. Improving our daily dose of positive feelings is more like understanding what really makes us happy, joyful or confident. It could be an early morning walk, jog or a gym/yoga routine, making a cup of tea, music or anything that makes you feel good. You can probably write a journal on a daily basis for about a week and identify instances, which made you confident, happy, and enthusiastic, and perhaps, this could be rated for happiness on a scale of 1-10.
Once you have understood these little joy enhancers then you should learn to prioritise and build more of them into your daily routine, preferably in the first part of the day. When we increase positivity in our lives, lots of good things happen, including feeling better physically, interpersonal skills improves, coupled with improving problem solving capacity and productivity at work.
R A Nadesan
is an executive coach, behavioural and soft skills trainer with a pan India presence. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org