Welcome to day 14 in the #Write31Days challenge. Today, I am joining in with the 1-word blog challenge hosted by Janine and Lisa. This week’s choice of words are “happy” and “pity”. I choose to write on happiness.
When Martin Seligman became president of the American Psychological Association in 2000, he held a speech advocating for more research into positive psychology. Positive psychology is the field of study that examines why certain people are happy, rather than trying to find out why those with mental health issues are not. Now of course mental illness does not prevent happiness, at least not in people with a positive attitude.
As I’ve said before, mental illness does not discriminiate and can in fact strike the most optimistic people. This being the case, optimistic people probably handle their mental illnesses differently from pessimistic people.
I am currently studying modifiers of people’s reaction to stress in my health psychology course. There are three tersm that essentially describe a person’s tendency towards otpimism: hardiness, coherence and resilience. You have probably heard of resilience, which refers to the way some people bounce back from stress and go on with their lives. Hardiness is essentially the same, while coherence describes a way of looking at the word as something that is understandable and logical. Resilient or hardy people perceive a stressful situation as a challenge rather than a threat.
I did not learn about the efffects of resilience on mental health. However, with regard to physical health, resilient or hardy people tend to get ill less, and when they do, they also adhere to treatment better and recover sooner than those who are less resilient.
People who are resilient, besides bouncing back from stress, also perceive they have some level of control over their health. I did not read this, but it could be they are easier patients in therapy. After all, therapy relies on the principle that patiens have control over their thoughts, emotions and actions.
Can you learn to be resilient? In part, yes. While resilience is a trait that is in part determined by people’s heredity and life experiences, you can still get to a more resilient place. Focusing on the positive is an important step towards developing resilience. Even tiny steps, such as creating gratitude lists, can help.