Accepted medical science has it that stress is actively bad for you, while happiness correlates with good health and longevity. However, new research, reported on by Crystal Ponti in New York Magazine, suggests that access to a spectrum of positive emotions (also called ’emotional diversity’) might be the key to a healthy life.
The study’s lead, Anthony Ong, speculates that the benefits of a positive emotional range may be similar to an ecosystem in which all the elements exist in balance with one another, rather than crowding each other out.
The study looked at 175 middle-aged people over a six-month period and found that those with the widest range of positive emotions were also those with the lowest levels of an indicator connected to several chronic diseases. However, the balance of positive to negative emotions and the spread of negative emotions apparently made no difference in the results. Previous studies, though, have suggested that a broader emotional diversity, both positive and negative, correlates with better health.
It is hoped that further studies will more precisely define the relationship between emotional states and health, and exactly how emotional range may impact well-being. Some speculate that a wider emotional range may provide benefits through a wider range of experience. However, others suggest that the relationship may be reversed and that poor health in fact leads to a more limited range of predominantly negative emotions.
So what can you take away from this? The advice is that you should allow yourself to live with the full emotional spectrum – and don’t try to suppress or reject your emotions.
Image: Unsplash/Priscilla Du Preez