Most of us want to live a happy life and experience joy, but when we struggle to, we get down on ourselves. We tend to think of our negative emotions, like anxiety and guilt, as something “bad” that we need to get rid of. Dr. Tim Lomas is a Psychology Research Scientist at Harvard who studies wellbeing and in his book, “The Positive Power of Negative Emotions,” he explains how these “negative” feelings aren’t just normal and natural, they can help us get to the happiness we want.
These are some science-backed benefits of feeling anxious and other “negative” emotions:
- Pulling away when you’re sad - When you’re dealing with something like a big breakup or the loss of a loved one, it’s normal to want to isolate yourself and wallow in your feelings alone, and that’s not a bad thing. Neuroscientists have found that when you retreat this way, your brain is signaling to your body to go into this kind of hibernation mode. It’s doing what it needs to so you can heal and feel stronger.
- Crying your eyes out - Never feel bad about getting teary, the science behind our weeping, highlights its benefits. Tears get rid of toxins, including stress hormones, kill bacteria and even keep our eyes lubricated, helping our sight. You may even feel calm after a good cry session, as it clears your perspective in more ways than one.
- Feeling bored - Kids often complain about being bored, but it turns out, it can be good for people to experience it. Scientists found a strange brain activity pattern when we’re not focused on a specific task. It’s called the Default Mode Network and they believe it plays an important part in our artistic ideas, new thoughts and sense of self.
- When you’re lonely - Being by yourself doesn’t have to be a bad thing, in fact, enjoying solitude without feeling lonely can help your brain “reboot,” which can boost productivity and problem solving ability.
- If anxiety strikes - We all feel anxious, whether it’s before an important presentation or something you deal with on a daily basis, and it’s often a sign that we’re testing our limits. Instead of feeling like anxiety is holding you back, think of it as helping you push boundaries as you step outside your comfort zone. Embrace feeling anxious as being excited for new experiences and you’ll realize it’s a positive thing.
Source: Your Tango