How to Stay Positive

Human emotions are powerful. From love and joy to fear and anger, our emotions have the ability to impact almost every aspect of our lives and even determine how we respond to life’s challenges. And while it may seem like emotions are beyond our control at times, the truth is that whether we feel good or bad on any given day is within our power. The way you feel on any given day has a lot to do with your perception—how you see things—and not necessarily the events themselves. For example, if you read a news article and think, “This news makes me sad;’ then, chances are you’ll also feel sad for the rest of that day. But what if instead of thinking about the news as “making” you sad, you recognized it as sad but not something you can control or that can control you. Chances are you will remain happier that day. This goes for anything in life. If you change your perception from negative to positive, almost all bad events will seem less challenging and more manageable. This can be accomplished by taking control of your responses and not seeing events as “making” you do or feel something.

How to Stay Positive in a Negative World

Our world can be a challenging place sometimes, and when we are met with negative people, situations, and emotions, it can be easy to fall into negative thinking and feeling. However, as you work to stay positive, it is important to remember that all situations and emotions can be interpreted differently. Although they may appear to be negative, they are only that way if we allow them to be. When we start to view negative events and situations as neutral, we begin to have more choice in how we respond to them and how we let them affect us. Instead of letting negative emotions take over and cause us to fall into a spiral of negativity, we can choose to let them exist, acknowledge them, and simply walk on by.

Practice Mindfulness

One of the best ways to keep your mind focused on positivity is through mindfulness. Mindfulness is a practice that has come from many different cultures and traditions, and it has been shown to provide many positive benefits in mental health, including the ability to stay focused and positive. When you practice mindfulness, you bring your attention to the present moment in an open, non-judgmental way. This helps you to view negative thoughts as just that—thoughts—and nothing more. You can then choose to let them pass through your mind without holding onto them or allowing them to affect your mood.

Commit to Positivity

One of the best ways to stay positive is to commit to it. When you commit to positivity, you choose the importance of your well-being. This kind of commitment can help you to focus on the things that are good in your life and that support your mental health. In turn, this commitment to positivity will help you to overcome negative thoughts and emotions when they do arise. If you decide that staying positive is truly important to you and you are ready to commit to it, you can create your own personal plan to help you stay on track. There are many different ways you can do this, and it may take some time before you feel like you have the right formula that works for you. Make your own small goals to help you practice positivity each day.

Finding Meaning in Everything

When you focus on the positive, it’s important not to ignore the negative, but rather to see it as an opportunity to find meaning. You can find positive meaning in all situations, even those that appear negative. For example, if you lose your job, you can find a positive meaning in it by realizing that now is a time to pursue your dream job or to improve your skills or change careers. If a loved one is diagnosed with a serious illness, you can find a positive meaning in it by realizing that you have a chance to become closer as a family and make the most of the time you have left with them. That doesn’t remove the pain or hardship but it does allow for flashes of joy and learning. Every situation holds an opportunity for positive meaning, and it’s up to you to see it that way.

Conclusion

When you are feeling down or anxious, remember that your emotions are not permanent. It can sometimes be difficult to see this when you are in the middle of a challenging situation, but once you are out of the situation, you will see that you can let those emotions go and move on from them. Remember that your emotions are connected to your perception and that how you choose to perceive situations can have a huge impact on how you feel. When you are faced with a difficult situation, take a step back, take a deep breath, and ask yourself what you can learn from the situation and how you can use that to make your life better in the future. When you stay positive and use your emotions to your advantage, you are better able to cope with life’s challenges and have a more fulfilling life.

What Motivates Us?

Motivation is an area that many researchers study: psychologists, marketers, economists, sociologists, anthropologists, and just about any other field within the social sciences. Anything can motivate us – food, sex, sleep, rewards, pain – but what motivates us to perform better at work or in anything we do? This is the question addressed in the following video clip. This is one of the best introductions to motivation (especially as it applies to a business setting) that I’ve seen.

FPS Gamers Enjoy Dying More Than Killing

New research published in the APA journal Emotion shows that people have different responses to killing and dying in first-person shooters. From the abstract of the article by Ravaja et al. (2008): “Instead of joy resulting from victory and success, wounding and killing the opponent may elicit high-arousal negative affect (anxiety), with high Psychoticism scorers experiencing less anxiety than low Psychoticism scorers. Although counterintuitive, the wounding and death of the player’s own character may increase some aspect of positive emotion.”

Link to the abstract.

Link to an article about the research.

I have not yet read the original article but it sounds very creative.

Hippocampal Volume Loss and Major Depression

Mood disorders range from major depressive disorders to major manic episodes. These disorders are both unipolar and bipolar. One main area of mood disorder research is that of unipolar major depression. Major depression can last just one episode or it can be a disorder, which can last for years with multiple depressive episodes over this extended period. The psychological aspects of depression are well understood but the biological foundations are less understood. As some evidence of this, the DSM-IV manual does not include any neurological information concerning major depression. In this handbook, depression is treated purely as a mental condition without an explanation of the biological aspects of the disorder. On the other hand, there are many psychopharmaceuticals prescribed to people with depression, which suggests that there is more than a cursory acknowledgment of the biological basis of this mental illness. However, this biological focus is mainly a focus on neurotransmitters and not anatomy. Recently, there have been numerous studies conducted to investigate the relationship between brain structure and depression (see Videbech & Ravnkilde, 2004). One of the structures most often studied in connection with depression is the hippocampus, which is a key structure for memory. The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether the hippocampus specifically is negatively impacted in depressed patients.

Frodl et al. (2002) investigated hippocampal changes in patients with first episode major depression. The authors had 30 adult depressed subjects (mean age = 40.3) and 30 matched controls (mean age = 40.6). The mean time of the depressive episode for the depression group was 0.71 years. The researchers collected MR images for all subjects. They compared the hippocampal volumes of the depressed group with the control group with ANCOVAs. Depressed men had significantly smaller left hippocampal volume than did healthy male subjects but right hippocampal volume was not significantly different. Female depressed subjects had significantly larger right hippocampal volume than did their matched controls and left volume did not differ, which implicates differing effects of depression on men and women. There was a significant left-right hippocampal volume disparity in the depressed patients but there was not one in the healthy subjects. Overall, the difference in hippocampal volume was not significant between the depressed and control groups though. There was also no significant correlation between age and hippocampal volume for either group but this finding goes against that of other research (Frodl et al.). On the other hand, between groups there was a significant reduction of hippocampal white matter volume. In other words, both male and female depressed patients had on average a reduction in the hippocampal white matter compared to the control subjects.

The authors concluded that there are likely physiologic gender differences in how males and females react to stress, which would explain why depressed males had smaller hippocampal volume and females did not. They believe this may be an example of the protective effects of estrogen against stress seen in other studies. In any case, there was a tendency for both depressed males and females to have significant left-right hippocampal asymmetry and reduced white matter. They concluded that this represents the beginning of left hippocampus volume loss and disrupted axonal transmission, respectively. The researchers could not conclude, however, that depression caused the volume loss. It may be that the loss came in response to stress or some other factor, which in turn predisposed the depressed subjects to major depression. Alternatively, the depression could have been the catalyst for the reduction (Frodl et al., 2002). Further longitudinal research is needed to uncover the causal relationship between depression and hippocampal volume.

Continue reading “Hippocampal Volume Loss and Major Depression”

Ventromedial prefrontal cortex damage results in impaired moral judgments

Click on the following link to read the news article from New Scientist: Moral judgment

The researchers found that people with ventromedial prefrontal cortex (which is involved in emotional regulation) damage have impaired judgment regarding moral dilemmas in which they are personally involved. Their judgment is not impaired compared to people without ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPC) damage in situations in which they are not personally involved. The likely pathway of this impairment is: damage to VMPC –> impaired emotional regulation –> impaired moral judgment in personal moral dilemmas.