Joy is not something easily understood even if you can study it in an fMRI scanner, but while positive psychology researchers will tell you it is much harder to get funding happiness, joy, or optimism, than negative behaviors and symptoms, accentuating the positive will be a good thing for your health.
Optimists are more likely to read up on their health and be compliant with their medications. Studies show that optimists will develop 50% more antibodies in response to vaccines, and be less likely to develop hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even death.
In the brain, optimism is associated with greater activity in the rostral anterior cingulate and amygdala, important areas known to be important for emotional arousal and motivation, but also error detection, and conflict resolution. It's not surprising then that optimists may outperform pessimists on many scales.
We are thankful for many things this Christmas season, especially that our family will be home for the holidays. Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. If we are able, we'll post at the beginning of 2008 before we head down to LA. Have a safe and blessed holiday!
The Biology of Joy - TIME
Wall Street Journal: Optimism pdf
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Your Brain While Christmas Shopping
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Visions of Sugarplums
Thanksgiving and Charity
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Tis the Season
Eide NL Blog: Teaching Optimism
Eide NL Blog: Generation Whatever: From Pessimism to Pragmatic Optimism