“Optimism is invaluable for the meaningful life. With a firm belief in the positive future, you can throw yourself into the service of that which is larger than you are.” – Martin Seligman
This life is conglomeration of positive and negative events, but it’s a human tendency to focalize one’s thoughts to the negative aspects of life leading to upsurge of negative feelings – also called Negativity Bias. Hence, it is very important to acknowledge the positive fragments of life; to have healthy thoughts and consequently have a healthy life.
The amount of stress one experiences can be controlled to a certain extent by Emotion Regulation – the ability of an individual to regulate one’s own emotional state. Identifying and labelling the emotion is a very important phase in the process of Emotion Regulation. After identifying the emotion, the acceptance and expression of emotion is also very important. It might be very difficult to regulate emotions like anger, resentment and guilt etc. Another way of emotion regulation is to keep a track of one’s BEAT – Behaviour, Experience, Affect and Thoughts e.g. – Lisa broke-up with her Boyfriend and is experiencing a lot of problem coping with the stress caused by the break-up. In this case Lisa has to keep a track of her BEAT
Behaviour: Keeping track of how she behaves after the incident. She might express her negative emotions in a wrong way i.e. – Anger outburst, Loss of Appetite, Disrupted Sleep patterns etc.
Experience: Experience refers to being aware of the feelings and ideas during the incident. Lisa might have felt like talking to someone and share her problem with someone trustworthy. She also must have felt like slapping her boyfriend at that moment.
Affect: keeping a track of the negative emotions of oneself. Affect also refers to correctly identifying and labelling the emotions. In this case, Lisa must be experiencing feelings of isolation, depression and anger.
Thoughts: It’s quite natural for the Irrational thoughts to crop up in one’s mind. Lisa must be aware of what she is thinking as it might also affect her relationships in future (If Lisa’s boyfriend belonged to a particular community, there is a possibility that she might jump to a conclusion that all the boys belonging to that community might deceptive, unreliable and untrustworthy.)
In Addition to keeping track of the BEAT, one can also keep their thoughts healthy by practicing Positive Affirmations – Self Induced positive statements that will guide one’s thought process and belief system. Several studies have shown a significant impact of Positive Affirmations on body image, anxiety, mental well being and self-concept. 2 elements are required for the affirmations to work i.e. – Belief and persistence. Belief in statements like – “Everyday and in everyway I feel Better and Better”, “I’m better than who I was Yesterday” or “I accept myself the way I am”, actually influences your mind to behave in a certain way. Great personalities like Shahrukh Khan, Jim Carrey, Denzel Washington and Oprah Winfrey believe in the power of affirmation and positive mindset and, hence, are able to lead a successful and healthy life. Some of the positive Affirmations are as follows:
- “I am very sincere in whatever I do”
- “It’s Ok If I make mistakes because I know I’m a human being”
- “I am responsible for my happiness”
- “I’m full of positivity”
Indulging into Prosocial Behaviour (helping others) also helps in instilling a sense of achievement which eventually ameliorates one’s mental health. Also, maintaining a Gratitude Journal (listing down the incidents, objects, people you’re grateful for.) is recommended by a lot of mental health professionals and will help one develop a positive mindset. In conclusion I would say that, to live a healthy life one needs to take care of both mental and physical health. But, more often than not, we only take care of our physical health by consuming healthy and nutritious food and completely neglect our mental health. But it’s of the utmost importance to take care of one’s mental health as well, and that is possible only if we consume healthy thoughts and defenestrate negative and unhealthy thoughts. This is recipe for a healthy life.
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