Turn that Frown Upside Down!

+A+study+found+that+spending+just+20+minutes+outside+each+day+%28in+good+weather%29+improves+not+only+your+mood%2C+but+also+your+working+memory.++Photo+provided+by+videoblocks.com
 A study found that spending just 20 minutes outside each day (in good weather) improves not only your mood, but also your working memory.  Photo provided by videoblocks.com

A study found that spending just 20 minutes outside each day (in good weather) improves not only your mood, but also your working memory. Photo provided by videoblocks.com

A study found that spending just 20 minutes outside each day (in good weather) improves not only your mood, but also your working memory. Photo provided by videoblocks.com

Lianys Olmeda, Staff Writer

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It seems that the world is full of negativity and pessimism now-a-days. It can be hard to keep a positive mindset and achieve what pretty much everyone wants to achieve, happiness. Well, it turns out that the negativity we feel is actually ingrained in us on a biological level. As humans evolved and lived during harsh times like the Ice Ages, natural selection favored those who were pessimistic and expected the worst because that’s how they survived. Therefore, what comes naturally to most people is that negative mentality that expects the worst out of every situation. Thus, unless you are just a natural-born optimist, one has to learn optimism. However, happiness cannot be forced; you can’t just tell someone to be happy and suddenly they are. People need concrete steps that they can take in order to achieve happiness or be in a better mood. Dr. Martin Seligman, psychologist and former President of the American Psychological Association, has learned that the keys to well-being are: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment, or PERMA.

There are a few things that one can do to improve upon the five components of happiness mentioned above. Meditation is a tool that can be used to reduce anxiety and anger. Thus, meditation can be used to improve one’s mental state, but it is also important to balance out the mindset that often comes with meditation. Though accepting fate and agreeing that life is full of suffering and accepting that suffering can be a powerful tool to reduce anxiety, it can also lead to feelings of hopelessness.  As Seligman said, “Mindfulness, concentrating on the present, detaching” is a “good anti-anxiety tool often, but it’s got a lot of costs as well.” Now, Seligman isn’t just saying these things; he is living proof of the effects of meditation and has gone through the positive and negative outcomes of it. He said that he meditated for 40 minutes every day for 20 years. He saw that by age 40, he didn’t have any more anxiety, meditation had essentially cured his anxious thoughts. However, there were some negative side effects as well. Seligman said that “the big issue was depression.” Nevertheless, Seligman found that by exercising, he counteracted the effects of depression because depression is essentially demobilization. Thus, by keeping a steady balance between acceptance and action, one can find a state of peace, and move closer to the vague idea of happiness that we all yearn for.

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