Archives for October 2017

Happiness & the Science of Emotions

Feeling mixed emotions? That may not be such a bad thing. Studies show that having the right mix of positive and negative emotions can actually lead to positive gains such as psychological growth, and an increase in physical health and creativity. Researchers suggest that the “right mix” of emotions to achieve these benefits is three to one; that is, three positives to one negative emotion at any one time. While this type of neurochemical “brew” can spontaneously occur as a byproduct of our unconscious reactions to life’s circumstances, it can also be consciously cultivated by the choices we make related to our emotions.

For instance, noticing when I am happy and, then, purposefully focusing my attention onto the physical manifestations of happiness in my body is one way of building more positivity into my life. In fact, recent studies in neuroscience suggest that the very act of “pausing” and “attending to” body sensations, like warmth around the heart, during a moment of fulfillment may prolong the joyous experience; even focusing on the comforting body sensation for 5 or 10 seconds may be enough to boost positivity and increase the likelihood of reaching a better balance of emotions. If you are interested in putting this information into practice, you are invited to mentally repeat the words investigate and allow the next time you are experiencing a positive emotion and see what happens for you.

Written by Tony Madril

Mindfulness as Prevention

Mindful awareness increases our ability to be aware our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. It helps us notice subtle changes in our moment-to-moment experience; for example, when we have been emotionally triggered by something within our environment or within ourselves. Perhaps we may become aware of a sudden increase in heart rate, an increase in muscle tension in our shoulders, or a subtle disturbance in our field of vision. This is important because noticing unexpected changes within our mind and body, however subtle, can alert us that to the fact that there may be something in need of our immediate attention.

When this happens, we may benefit from pausing and asking ourselves: “Have I been triggered?” or “What might be triggering me?” Noticing that you have been triggered, you might additionally ponder: “What can I do, now, to best take care of myself?”


Instead of avoiding the emotional discomfort of having been triggered by trying to escape, we might be better served by addressing the source of the problem; by deep breathing; calling a friend, or by scheduling an appointment to see our therapist. Mindfulness used in this way can enhance our ability to make better decisions about self-care over time, and prevent unnecessary health problems in our lives.

Written by Tony Madril