If you want to look around for reasons to be depressed and unhappy, you’ll have an easy time of it these days, no doubt. The economy’s in a shambles, a lot of people are out of work (you might be one of them)… and if you own a business, or run somebody else’s business, you know it’s very tough sledding out there. It’s easy to fall into a victim’s attitude.
But you must not do that! You have to fight the blues for your mind’s sake, for the sake of your business, and (it turns out) for the sake of your health and vitality. And some interesting research findings drive this point home.
First, according to the Journal of The American Stroke Association and The Mayo Clinic, the more you stay positive and happy, the better chance you have of avoiding a stroke. The Journal also reported that upbeat folks have healthier immune systems, faster ability to heal wounds, and a lower risk of heart disease.
It’s that first bit that seems of great importance, because other research points to a rise in strokes. Another academic journal, “Annals of Neurology,” reported this summer that from 1995 to 2008, the incidence of ischemic strokes rose by about half for males, and about a quarter for females. The journal noted that risk factors for stroke, including family history, previous strokes, drug and alcohol usage, smoking, obesity, and hypertension were also more common. So if you have some of these other risk factors, why add a sour disposition to the list?
One more finding that might suggest something to do about this: a couple months ago, the British Journal of Psychology reported that depressed people tend to avoid eye contact in social situations (and in experimental settings), while happy people seem to want to look you in the eye. This eye-contact avoidance led many sad folks to avoid certain social situations… and while that might have reduced the anxiety they’d have felt in the situation itself, it increased their sense of social isolation and deepened their already-dismal mood.
I’ll add one more wrinkle: those of us who have an introverted personality type tend to be first to avoid social settings. Therefore, we can be particularly at risk of causing our own downward spiral toward depression, beginning with allowing ourselves more isolation than an extrovert might allow herself. Know this: being an introvert doesn’t mean you’re not socially capable, or that you are destined for depression. It’s merely a preference. You can still party like it’s, well, like it’s New Year’s… and though you might have to be dragged to the party, you’ll often find later that you thank the person who dragged you!
So do what it takes to get happy… you’ll live longer (and better). Start by jumping into social settings (you’ll be glad afterward that you did, even you introverts!), and make a renewed effort to look folks in the eye. Your business, your mission, and your very health may depend on it.