What do you do when you successfully reached a goal? For example, you’ve just received a promotion, or you got engaged, or you lost weight or you reached a goal? Most of us like to share the news with friends and family – or even with people we hardly know via social media. Psychologists term for sharing a position experience with someone else is called capitalization. It provides an added benefit from a good event. This kind of communication, it turns out, has unexpectedly positive effects not just for you in the moment, but for your relationships and for your long-term well-being. Communicating a good event boosts self-esteem, keeps the event memorable and builds social relationships.
Health & Happiness
For a long time, researches have known that positive events contribute to positive emotions, and positive emotions lead to increased well-being and better health. People who are pre-disposed to have a positive outlook – “optimists” are more likely to believe they have control over their own lives. They have confidence in their ability to achieve their goals. On the other hand, “Pessimists” tend to think that they are helpless in the face of life’s hardships.
Positive outlooks are correlated with longer life; pessimists, on the other hand, shorter than average life spans. In fact, pessimistic men are more likely than average to die from accidents and violence.
Reflecting Good News
When things go wrong, a friend’s sympathetic and supportive response can go a long way toward easing the pain. When things go right, the type of reaction you get is just as important. Researchers have identified 4 (four) potential responses to good news (such as a job promotion):
- Active- Constructive – or enthusiastic support: “Wov” that’s great! You deserve it! You really worked hard. Tell me about your new job?”
- Passive-Constructive – or quiet, understated support: “OK, that’s nice”.
- Active-Destructive – belittling the news, “I guess no one else wanted the job. Are you sure you can handle it”?
- Passive-Destructive – Ignoring the news, “You should hear about my day!”
This is no great surprise, when people were asked to evaluate the responses that made them feel better, only the active-constructive reactions added to their sense of well-being. Those who reported active, positive interactions added to their sense of well-being. Those who reported active, positive interactions with partners also reported higher satisfaction with their relationships. It seems it’s not enough just to acknowledge good news. To be a supportive friend or partner, you should make sure your enthusiastic, participating in your friend’s good fortune.
We want people to be there for us when things go bad. Even so, some studies have shown that support from a partner/friend in tough times can give mixed signals: We appreciate the sympathy but the response might make us feel inferior or unable to cope on our own. However, a partners/friends support in good times has been shown to bolster well-being without the negative effects of self-doubt. A study that followed couples for two months found that men particularly appreciated enthusiastic support for good news, and they were more likely to break-up with their partners if they didn’t receive it.
In closing, did you know that the simple perception that you have people to turn to in times of trouble provides some protection against harmful effects of stress?