Magazine article Work & Family Life

'Automatic Optimism' Is a Skill We Can Build

Magazine article Work & Family Life

'Automatic Optimism' Is a Skill We Can Build

Article excerpt

Many studies have made the connection between happiness and a long life. For example, a study of elderly nuns found that those who expressed the most positive emotions in early adulthood (using words like "thankful" and "joy" in diary entries) lived about 10 years longer than those who had shown the fewest good feelings.

Of course, "feeling happy" is easier said than done. What about the real tragedies that happen in our own lives and the lives of others?

Building on earlier studies of hostility and heart disease, University of Michigan psychologist Barbara Fredrickson has found that how people cope is a big piece of the puzzle: more resilient people tend to embrace love and friendship, count their blessings and grow emotionally as a result of their hardships.

Dr. Fredrickson suggests that we can learn to "harness" the impact of stress on our emotions. …

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