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3.4 Thinking Like a Social Psychologist About Social Affect

If you have carefully studied this chapter, you will have learned a great deal about how emotions influence our everyday lives and the harmful roles that negative emotions can play. But you will also have learned a great deal about how best to stay happy and healthy. This is not to say that you’ll never be sad or sick—you will—but rather that you will understand how to best cope with these threats. Let’s close this chapter with some thoughts about how a social psychologist, and now you, might think about these topics. I encourage you to practice them—and share them with your friends and family!

  • Avoid as many negative emotions as you can. Think positively—do something positive for yourself every day.
  • Believe that you can make a difference, but don’t exaggerate your ability to do so.
  • Be aware of your stress level and work to reduce it through relaxation or other techniques if you can.
  • Set realistic goals that you believe you can attain, and carefully regulate your emotions and behaviors as you try to reach them.
  • Practice healthy behaviors, including aerobic exercise. People who exercise regularly may live 1 to 2 years longer than those who don’t (Paffenbarger, Hyde, Wing, & Hsieh, 1986).Paffenbarger, R. S., Hyde, R. T., Wing, A. L., Hsieh, C. C. (1986). Physical activity, all-cause mortality, and longevity of college alumni. New England Journal of Medicine, 314, 605–613.
  • Avoid unhealthy activities such as smoking, drinking excessively, and unsafe sex.
  • Develop close relationships with others, and if you can, share your problems with them.
  • Realize—really!—that money cannot buy happiness.