The aha moment.
The big, duh.
The New York Times recently reported the eureka-moment findings of Judith Moskowitz, a professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University. Her research uncovered eight skills that can build positive emotions, improve our quality of life, and maybe even add years to our lives.
At the University of California, Moskowitz studied people in crisis and observed their ability to feel calm and happy, even in the midst of dire circumstances.
She and her colleagues found that people with AIDS, Type 2 diabetes and other chronic illnesses lived longer when they remained positive. They tended to stay connected with friends, followed their doctor’s orders, and embraced a healthier lifestyle.
The eight skills are:
■ Recognize a positive event each day.
■ Savor the event and log it in a journal or tell someone about it.
■ Start a daily gratitude journal.
■ List a personal strength and note how you used it.
■ Set an attainable goal and note your progress.
■ Report a relatively minor stress and list ways to reappraise the event positively.
■ Recognize and practice small acts of kindness daily.
■ Practice mindfulness, focusing on the here and now rather than the past or future.
Moskowitz was inspired by her findings, and I was too. I’ve been teaching these principles for years. Now there’s empirical evidence to give them cachet.
You can’t argue with science.
Eureka moments are always a good thing, especially when the evidence has been there all along.
Moskowitz’s findings remind me of another eureka moment. A post-Easter eureka moment. One I visited again recently in the book of Luke.
Jesus was walking along the road to Emmaus and came upon two of his followers. Seeing they were still visibly shaken by the crucifixion, he asked them what they were upset about.
Not recognizing him, one of them answered, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
Then they began telling Jesus about the prophet from Nazareth who was powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. He was sentenced to death, crucified, and buried. Now his body was missing from the tomb, and they were deeply troubled.
Jesus responded by offering them comfort through a eureka moment. He used their own scriptures, centuries old, to highlight truth that had been there all along.
Jesus spoke to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:24-27)
I often wonder what makes Jesus recognizable to some and unrecognizable to others, especially when it comes to his own followers.
Grief? Fear? Anger? Prejudice? Disillusionment? Confusion?
It makes me wonder how many other things are just waiting to be discovered.
Keeping our eyes open takes effort. But it’s definitely the stuff eureka moments are made of.
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