Mad, sad, bad, glad, scared.  Each emotion contains its own lesson.  Each type of emotion (for example, mad versus sad) points to a particular kind of lesson about self for about our relationship of self to others.  Each type of emotion also points to particular kinds of action that can bring the social world back into balance.

For example, what makes you feel mad or feel hurt?  The lesson built into every instance of anger or hurt brings questions, such as: what do I believe I deserve?  What do I feel about how I should be treated by others?  In what way might I be part of the problem?

When feeling sad, these questions arise: what do I love or admire or desire — what important thing, person, relationship or opportunity have I lost?  What does my love or desire say about who I am?  What do I have that I cannot bear to lose?  What can I do to keep the loss from happening or getting worse?  If it’s too late, how can I mourn and or praise what I’ve lost?

When feeling bad — guilty or ashamed: what is expected of me?  What do I expect of myself?  What are the right ways for me to be and to act?  How do I make things right again with others?

When your are glad: what makes my world better, more complete?  What do I rejoice in?  What does this say about who I am?  How do I praise or celebrate?

When you are afraid: what is dangerous and therefore to be avoided, or approach cautiously?  How do I take care of myself?

From: Bill Plokin’s Nature and the Human Soul

The European Society of Cardiology issued the following news release
about a study published today in the *European Heart Journal*:

Don’t worry, be happy!  Positive emotions protect against heart disease

People who are usually happy, enthusiastic and content are less likely
to develop heart disease than those who tend not to be happy, according
to a major new study published today (Thursday 18 February).

The authors believe that the study, published in the Europe’s leading
cardiology journal, the European Heart Journal [1], is the first to show
such an independent relationship between positive emotions and coronary
heart disease.
(more…)

Can Acetaminophen Ease Psychological Pain?

Headaches and heartaches. Broken bones and broken spirits. Hurting
bodies and hurt feelings. We often use the same words to describe
physical and mental pain. Over-the-counter pain relieving drugs have
long been used to alleviate physical pain, while a host of other
medications have been employed in the treatment of depression and
anxiety. But is it possible that a common painkiller could serve double
duty, easing not just the physical pains of sore joints and headaches,
but also the pain of social rejection? A research team led by
psychologist C. Nathan DeWall of the University of Kentucky College of
Arts and Sciences Department of Psychology has uncovered evidence
indicating that acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) may
blunt social pain.

“The idea–that a drug designed to alleviate physical pain should reduce
the pain of social rejection–seemed simple and straightforward based on
what we know about neural overlap between social and physical pain
systems. To my surprise, I couldn’t find anyone who had ever tested this
idea,” DeWall said.
(more…)

“There is an idea current in the prevailing culture that writing about something that means you heal the pain.  I was not, when I began writing my life story, and I am not now, healed of my mother.  You do gain a small distance from anything by keeping it in suspension in your mind while you work at finding the words to fit it.  The process is so slow and incremental that you do not notice its effect, but the point is that it is a process.  I found out when I was a little girl that if you are crying uncontrollably and want to stop, the thing is to do something useful with your tears — water a plant, say.  They’ll dry up for themselves.  The same happens when you try to make sentences of painful material: the material lightens as it is put to work.”

Nualo O’Faolain in “Almost There”, pg. 36.

Today’s *Vancouver Sun* includes an article: “Ancient Buddhism and
modern psychology; Both practices are focused on releasing followers
from suffering, and both aim for emotional health” by Douglas Todd.

Here are some excerpts:

[begin excerpts]

‘Everybody’s a Buddhist now.”  That’s what a Vancouver yoga studio owner
recently said, a wry twinkle in her eye.

She was noticing how many of her yoga students were joining western
nature lovers, spiritual seekers and global pacifists in describing
themselves as followers of the 2,500-year-old Asian tradition.

Most of them were finding their entrée into Buddhism through meditation
and the healing arts….

There are many natural links between Buddhism and psychology.

(more…)

The American Physiological Society issued the following news release:

Laughter remains good medicine

New study reports on the mind-emotion-disease model

The connection between the body, mind and spirit has been the subject of conventional scientific inquiry for some 20 years. The notion that psychosocial and societal considerations have a role in maintaining health and preventing disease became crystallized as a result of the experiences of a layman, Norman Cousins. In the 1970s, Cousins, then a writer and magazine editor of the popular Saturday Review, was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. He theorized that if stress could worsen his condition, as some evidence suggested at the time, then positive emotions could improve his health. As a result, he prescribed himself, with the approval of his doctor, a regimen of humorous videos and shows like Candid Camera(c). Ultimately, the disease went into remission and Cousins wrote a paper that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and a book about his experience, Anatomy of an Illness: A Patient’s Perspective, which was published in 1979. The book became a best seller and led to the investigation of a new field, known then as whole-person care or integrative medicine and now, lifestyle medicine.

Points from the news release:

  • Beta-endorphins elevate mood state
  • Human growth hormone (HGH) helps with optimizing immunity
  • Cortisol and epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) are detrimental stress hormones that negatively affect immunity if chronically released.
  • A group of 10 diabetics with hypertensoin and high cholesterol were assigned regularly to watch funny videos for 30 minutes. Over 12 months, their blood chemistry was compared to 10 matching people who were not made to laugh.
  • Adding laughter standard diabetes care may lower stress and inflammatory response and increase “good” cholesterol levels. The authors conclude that mirthful laughter may thus lower the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome.

In describing himself as a “hardcore medical clinician and scientist,” Dr. Berk says, “the best clinicians understand that there is an intrinsic physiological intervention brought about by positive emotions such as mirthful laughter, optimism and hope.

More details follow:

(more…)

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