You know that giddy feeling you get when you look at a baby smile? Or that happy feeling you get on your birthday when your friends want to celebrate with you? Did you know that some of us experience happiness for a few brief moments, while others can truly savor the feeling and make it last? Well it’s true.
According to a recent study, savoring emotions associated with positive experiences can contribute to your overall health and wellbeing. The findings, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, suggests that “the duration of activity in specific circuits of the brain, even over short periods of time such as seconds, can predict the persistence of a person’s positive emotion minutes and hours later.”
The research showed that participants with more activity or stimulation in the part of their brain associated with reward learning reported positive emotions that lasted for longer periods of time. So what does that mean? It means we can make good feelings last longer.
According to Richie Davidson, founder of University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and senior author of the paper, (and an amazing human being I will add) explains that by doing something as simple as showing “lovingkindness” and compassion toward others might help to extend the joyful sensation of an experience. Lovingkindness is an emotional state of intense empathy, it is associated with positive emotions-so when we are engaged in the act of cultivating these emotions towards others it increases the positive emotions we feel for ourselves.
The next time you are gazing at a sunset, tasting a favorite food, or smelling a fresh bouquet, remember that in the words of the poet John Keats, “a thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
Image Credit: Kristin Vogel