Interestingly, one of the most popular classes ever taught at Harvard is called “Positive Psychology”. It was taught by Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D. The professor’s class started with about eight-students at first, but quickly grew to over 900-students. This class became larger than the “Introduction to Economics” at Harvard and that drew a lot of people’s attention in academics and the media. What is Positive Psychology? It is simply the science of happiness, backed by prominent research. Tal Ben-Shahar lovingly calls it “Happiness 101”.
There is a lot to this subject, but a few points about the correlation between Stress and Depression stand-out:
- Feelings of overwhelm are prevalent in society today. We continually have too much to do in less and less time. We then feel stressed and over time if this stress persists it can lead to depression. This effects people of all ages. Research has shown that greater levels of depression in people are starting at an earlier age now. In the 1960s the average age of a person with depression was 29. Today, the average age of a person with depression is 14. I repeat, the average age of a person with depression is 14--Wow!
- Stress and Depression are primary causes of physical ailments as they weaken our immune systems. It’s no coincidence that after a very stressful period at work, or in school, or in a relationship we become sick!
- When overly stressed we think narrowly, opposed to thinking broadly when we are more relaxed. In a depressed state, sometimes, we just can’t think! People lose their levels of creativity.
Quantity affects Quality. Consider this exemplary exercise that illuminates what happens when we try and do too much: Think about these two pieces of music. Mentally play each one separately in your head. Then afterward, in your own mind, give each one them a rating on a scale from 1-to-10 as to their likeability.
- First mentally play Whitney Houston’s song “I Will Always Love You”. Imagine listening to her sing and perform it and give it your rating when finished.
- Second mentally play a portion of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, or any other classical piece you can think of. Imagine hearing the musical intricacies, afterwards give it your rating.
- Lastly, for maximum effect, in your mind, play the two songs simultaneously! What happens? What do we get? We no longer get ratings, what we get is called noise, right?!
Similarly, when we attempt to do too much that’s the overwhelming result in our modern lives as well. For more information about “Positive Psychology and “Happiness 101” visit author and lecturer Tal Ben-Shahar’s website: http://www.talbenshahar.com
So, this daily noise in our environment is what we’ve learned to cope with. Some do it better than others, of course, but it really does affect our overall health & well-being. We pay a very high price with our health and happiness, when we try to do too much. Think about this in your business and your personal life. Look for ways to simplify—think of the old-adage “less is more”. Whenever possible, skip the multi-tasking. By narrowing your focus to one thing at a time, you can avoid making poor choices, painful mistakes and experiencing needless stress that can perpetuate into depression—especially if stress is regularly felt and sustained.
By Judith Garner, Certified Health Coach
Helping people stay healthy inside & out!