Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Writing Your Way to Happiness

Felix Emile-Jean Vallotton
Tara Parker-Pope, health writer for the New York Times, posted a piece this week on the scientific evidence that writing—journaling—is good for your health, and that writing can help with pain, recovery and wellness.

We have known this anecdotally, and we’ve seen other research from medical schools in the United States—studies of patients with everything from asthma to appendicitis, and through cancer and chemo—those that write—regularly—report less pain, less illness-related stress and faster recovery times.

In our recovery programs—for our addictions—we are encouraged to write. Our twelve steps include writing inventory, writing lists and writing amends. In current practice we talk even more about daily gratitude lists and writing out topic specific inventories: food, cars, relationships, men, work…we write about our “issues” and we write to explore and express feelings. And it works.

But do we write when things are going well? When recovery has a calm period? When life is more happy than sad?

We should. The article by Parker-Pope—the link is below—shows that writing can shift us into happiness and keep happy times alive. It works for men and women, individuals and for couples. One of the striking pieces of research that is reported here is that re-writing one’s own story can lead to a big change in our outlook, and that by writing -with pen to paper-we can re-write (internally) our story and our perspective.

I’m trying this tonight. I have (yet another) nagging issue and I’m putting pen to paper to re-write how I am and how this could be different. Why don’t you try that too—and let’s compare notes. Deal?

Here’s the article by Tara Parker-Pope:

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