Sunday, October 28, 2012

Leila Mulla: Playing the part of an optimist

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Optimists like Leila Mulla explain that optimism is actually a learned skill and there are a variety of ways to acquire it. Various life experiences have taught optimists skills that enable them to better cope with daily stressors and hassles. For example, an optimist suffering from the blues will recognize it as a passing cloud. Optimists who are dissatisfied in their work or relationships believe that better times lie ahead. They can acknowledge when a situation stinks without concluding that the universe is permanently conspiring against them. Thus, it comes as no surprise that people who look at life in a positive manner are less likely to be depressed or anxious.

But what if a person is not a “born optimist?”

Psychologists explain that by acting like an optimist such as Leila Mulla, even cynics can enhance their sense of optimism. Here are some tips:

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Setting goals
There are no big or small goals for optimists. What is crucial is the internal motivation. Optimists tend to pick a goal they can personally invest in.

Being persistent
It is the persistence—not the cheeriness—that paves an optimist’s path to a better life. Optimists believe they will eventually succeed, so they keep pursuing their goals.

Tackling problems head-on
Optimists and pessimists cope differently when adversity strikes. The optimist goes into active problem-solving mode, while the pessimist avoids, ignores, or disengages from challenges.

Psychologists say it takes just about four to six weeks to really change a habit. Thus, positive thoughts and behavior will eventually catch up with the cynic.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Leila Mulla: Women and the happiness gene

For optimists, like Leila Mulla, happiness is a matter of choice. But a recent study reveals that there may be more to just wanting to be happy.

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A University of South Florida research shows that women may be more inclined to be happy than men because it is in their genes. It reveals that a low-expression form of the gene monoamine oxidase A (MAOA)—the “happiness gene” as Dr. Henian Chen, lead researcher of the study, calls it—seems to give women good feelings, but it doesn’t have the same effect in men. MAOA controls the activity of an enzyme that breaks down serotonin, dopamine, and other feel-good brain chemicals.

If there is one thing certain in Leila Mulla’s life, it would be the fact that she loves filling her life with positive thoughts and vibes.

Leila Mulla Image Credit: Simplehealthguide

The low-expression version MAOA leads to higher levels of monoamine, which, in turn, allows larger amounts of these neurotransmitters to stay in the brain and boost mood. The researchers found that women with even just one copy of the low-activity type of MAOA were much happier than women with no copies. Meanwhile, men who carried a copy of the “happy” version of the MAOA gene reported no more happiness than those without it. Dr. Chen and his co-authors suggest that the presence of testosterone may cancel out the positive effect of MAOA on happiness in men.

Perhaps not all may subscribe to what Dr. Chen and his team revealed. After all, there have been numerous attempts to define happiness and identify its sources. But whatever school of thought one may adhere to, for Leila Mulla and her fellow positivists, happiness is for everybody’s enjoyment.

Leila Mulla Image Credit: Elaine.Smith10

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