Some Good News, for a Change

Ice Bucket 2016 boston-e1408567034546-1940x1091Are you ready for an upbeat newsflash? With all of the negativity between competing Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and the continuing stories of worldwide terrorism, it’s refreshing to learn about a positive story in the media.

Two years ago, I blogged about how the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, publicized on social media, had raised $115 million dollars over the summer to fund research into ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). Now, we learn that “ProjectMinE,” partially sponsored by these contributions, has identified a genetic factor associated with familial ALS. The recent discovery of the variant in the gene will hopefully move scientists closer to the goals of understanding and potentially eliminating this debilitating disease. It’s heartening to see the results of the fund-raising apparent so quickly.

Now here are a few more positive reports and steps you can take to help put you in a happier mood this summer:

Giving to others leads to greater happiness for yourself too. Millennials are particularly energized by giving: a survey of 20- to 35-year-olds found that 75% of them had donated to charities the year before and had asked their friends to do so as well. And actively volunteering your time to those in need – helping at a homeless shelter, serving a meal at a soup kitchen, driving dinners via a meals-on-wheels program, visiting those in hospitals and nursing homes – brings you the good feelings of a “helpers high.”

Expressing gratitude and appreciation for what you have brings a myriad of positive outcomes back to you. In addition to making others feel more valued, it also improves your own mood. When you focus on what you are grateful for, you gain a wide range of benefits, including sounder sleep, enhanced self-esteem, increased levels of contentment and improved connections with your community. That’s quite an outcome stemming from those two little words, “thank you.”

Being optimistic and seeing things as more rosy than they actually are promotes a longer, healthier life as well as a less stressed and more emotionally sound one. When you can see the sunny side, you’ll be more likely to persist in achieving your goals and become more accomplished. These outcomes together will lead you to a positive upward spiral fostering continued optimism.

Eating some dark chocolate, scientists have found, can lower blood pressure as well as improve brain function. So enjoy the stress-reduction and sense of wellbeing from those few ounces of chocolate – as long as you’re also exercising regularly to experience endorphins and euphoria from your physical workout too.

Do these tips encourage you to create your own good news stories? You can begin with small steps by helping someone cross the street, saying a heartfelt ‘thanks’ to a loved one, smiling once each day – and nibbling on a bit of chocolate. Then build on these in your own way as you improve the lives of others as well as yourself.

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