I got spanked by science this morning…
Laura Carstensen, a “lifespan researcher”, says she knows why the elderly are happier than the young. Though their bodies and minds are weaker and less reliable than ever before, and though they experience loss much more frequently, many elderly are happier than ever because they’ve mastered “attention management.”
“To a greater extent than younger individuals, seniors recall POSITIVE memories, entertain PLEASANT thoughts, seek our and retain FAVORABLE information, search for and gaze at HAPPY faces, and focus on UPSIDES…
Seniors with the best attention management skills (those good at orienting to and staying fixed on positive material) show the greatest mood enhancement. Those with poor such skills, however, can’t extricate themselves from their tribulations. They are the ones who experience mood degeneration as they age. They are also the ones who account for the misguided stereotype of the elderly as irascible and sour — because the grumpy are just more conspicuous than the contented.”
Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky studies human happiness. Her life’s work is figuring out what habits might lead to happiness. Turns out the habits that lead to happiness are habits that turn our attention toward the positive. It’s a short list that doesn’t included watching the news or scrolling through Facebook every day.
Count your blessings. Sonja’s research has proven that beginning the day with gratitude reorients us toward thankfulness all day. She suggests writing down what we’re thankful for each morning to turn our attention to what’s right in our lives.
Choose beforehand to look for the positive in every situation, event and person we’ll encounter. Choose BEFORE the stress arrives to look for the good in it, to interpret the actions of others in the most positive way possible, to find something beneficial about every inconvenience. This changes what we pay attention to throughout our day.
Avoid the avoidable negative influences. The keyword here is “avoidable.” Not every negative influence is avoidable but Facebook is. “Deliberately limit time spent dwelling on problems or on unhealthy comparisons with others,” Sonja writes.
Philippians 4:8-9 puts it this way: “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”