Q: There’s so much negativity these days that it’s affecting even our children. Can you give us and our church family some happy news?
A: Yes, we can! Like you, we’re pained to see the mood of our biological and church families become poisoned by toxic attitudes and actions regardless of the justification. Studies about the ill effects of negative emotional states abound, but there’s strong evidence that happiness, optimism, gratitude, hopefulness, contentment, and other positive states don’t just make us feel good—they are good for us individually and collectively. God knew all along that a joyful heart is good medicine! (Prov. 17:22).
The longest-running “happiness” study revealed that close relationships—more than money or fame—keep people happy throughout their lives. Just like eating healthfully, exercising regularly, and getting adequate sleep, tending to our relationships is a form of self-care. Healthy marriages and social ties protect us from life’s curveballs and disappointments, increase our resilience, and help to delay mental and physical decline. Having robust social linkages is a better predictor of a long, happy life than social class, education, or family history.
Here are some ways to increase positive emotions:
Happiness protects the body and the brain. Close social interaction increases joy. Negativity is like cancer or a plague. Invite the Holy Spirit to take over; yield to Him and really get to know Him, whom to know is life eternal. And “be of good cheer, [Christ has] overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference. Zeno L. Charles-Marcel, a board-certified internist, is an associate director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.