Friday, February 6, 2015

Writing Your Way to Happiness

Re-blogged from an article by Tara Parker-Hope from The New York Times - Link

The scientific research on the benefits of so-called expressive writing is surprisingly vast. Studies have shown that writing about oneself and personal experiences can improve mood disorders, help reduce symptoms among cancer patients, improve a person’s health after a heart attack, reduce doctor visits and even boost memory.

Now researchers are studying whether the power of writing — and then rewriting — your personal story can lead to behavioural changes and improve happiness.

The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn't get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health...

A asked married couples to write about a conflict as a neutral observer. Among 120 couples, those who explored their problems through writing showed greater improvement in marital happiness than those who did not write about their problems.

“These writing interventions can really nudge people from a self-defeating way of thinking into a more optimistic cycle that reinforces itself,” said Timothy D. Wilson, a University of Virginia psychology professor and lead author of the Duke study.


Dr. Wilson, whose book “Redirect: Changing the Stories We Live By,” was released in paperback this month, believes that while writing doesn’t solve every problem, it can definitely help people cope. “Writing forces people to reconstrue whatever is troubling them and find new meaning in it,” he said.

Alan GelbEast Chatham
I was fascinated to read your article, as I am publishing a book with Tarcher Penguin this August entitled Having the Last Say: Capturing Your Legacy in One Small Story, which encourages older people to write short narratives that in some way reflect an ethic or moral value that they have lived by. With my pilot group of adult writers who participated in this work, I was able to see the therapeutic results of engaging in that kind of life review through the written word...

Daily writing leads to happiness, and one of the best books that I have read on this topic is "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" by Suzette Elgin.

Other links which may be of interest:-
The Benefits of Writing
Setting, Elaborating, and Reflecting on Personal Goals Improves Academic Performance
Self Authoring

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