on Mental Health

Friday, August 5, 2011

Take a sacred moment

Stress is a precursor to anxiety, and more than 19 million Americans are afflicted with some type of anxiety disorder today. Furthermore, disorders such as anxiety critically impact quality of life and well-being. Although current research is working towards discovering factors that influence well-being, there is still a pattern of sidestepping the qualities of sacred moments in reference to mental health and well-being. With the field's persistent emphasis on techniques toward mental health that do not explicitly involve the sacred and the transcendent, it seems critical to continue to tap this area for its value to our own lives.

To back this up the need for this in our society, an electronic search of Psychological Abstracts in psychology's last 100 years reveals a 14 to one ratio of psychological articles about negative emotions versus positive emotions. The imbalance in research of negative versus positive makes it ever more important to ask the question: what does it mean to live the good life? The good news: there is resurgence in the world of focusing on this very question!

Empirical research suggests that, in considering an approach to pursuing a lifestyle conducive to good overall health and well-being, an important factor is cultivating a sense of sacredness in one's life. Recent studies show a high positive connection between the way we think and feel in relation to the sacred and well-being. Some studies suggest that connecting with the transcendent and experiencing a transcendent sense of self foster well-being. Other studies find that well-being is positively correlated with a sense of support from the transcendent in areas such as marriage, parenting, healthy family relationships, and sustaining physical health.

Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough applied a new intervention that focuses on fostering gratitude and linked it to life satisfaction and a sense of purpose in life. Furthermore, our thoughts and emotions associated with the sacred have positive connections among themselves, implying that when experiencing one aspect, others may be felt at the same time.

These studies underscore the concept that there is a significant positive connection between what are considered sacred components of life and well-being and a negative connection to stress. It can therefore be argued that an intervention cultivating these sacred components may increase well-being and reduce stress.

posted by Elisha Goldstein, 11:17 am