By Hugh Finlay
Scientists now accept the part that can be played by positive emotions in reducing various diseases. Science concedes that the optimists were right!
Culturing positive emotions have been shown to boost the immune system. It can relax or eliminate depression, lower blood pressure, reduce heart disease, and lower blood sugar. It has also been shown to normalize weight. It brings an increase in physical activity and healthy eating, reduced use of tobacco, and a lower risk of dying.
Dr.Wendy Schessel Harpham, author of several books, including "Happiness in a Storm", used her positive attitude to help successfully overcome non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system. Research has shown that people can learn to acquire a positive attitude, and now a course has been created to do just this.
A course offering 8 ways to develop positive emotions has been created by Judith K. Moskowitz, a professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago. She found that HIV people who practiced these skills carried a lower load of the virus, and were more likely to take their medication correctly. They were less likely to need antidepressants, than HIV patients in the same study who did not practice these skills, but were put on a general support program instead. The positivity skills group had higher levels of positive thoughts and emotions, than the other HIV patients.
Interestingly Dr. Moskowitz's main aim was to make sure that the positivity skills patients were happy, satisfied and calm, the health benefits being a bonus. One of the HIV patients Gregg De Meza, a 56 year old architect from San Francisco, said that practicing the positivity skills course had turned his life around., commenting that "I'm healthier than I've ever been."
One of the techniques used by Professor Moskowitz is mindfulness, but there is a technique which has shown itself to be a much more easy, spontaneous and effective way to have positive emotions, Transcendental Meditation. As the American Heart Association put it in 2013 "...the Transcendental Meditation technique is the only meditation practice that has been shown to lower blood pressure...all other meditation techniques, including MBSR(Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction), received a 'Class III, no benefit..."
Scientific evidence (Collected Papers, Volumes 1-7) has shown that among the benefits of doing TM, are: