I have chosen to provide a brief review of a recent academic article here which gives weight to the notion that improvement in mood and contentment can be achieved by reflecting on positive memories. Johnson, Gooding, Wood, Fair, and Tarrier have published their findings of a study of a coping method termed Broad-Minded Affective Coping Procedure (BMAC) (2013, p.61). In the case of the published study the observed participants had been diagnosed with a range of mental health issues ranging from depression and anxiety to schizophrenia. The study involved specifically invoking aspects of sensory memory and analysing the reported sensations and feelings experienced by the participants. Both the invoking of positive memories and the sensory association are key to the BMAC method.
There are a few key findings of this study which should equally correlate with positive mood experiences in the general population. Where participants could associate positive emotions with sensory aspects such as sounds and smells, recalls or triggers of these senses resulted in a re-experiencing of the emotions with a resulting overall increase reported in both hope and happiness (Johnson et al., 2013, p. 66). Further the BMAC is described as a method which could be learnt so that participants could benefit from improvements in ‘sustained emotional processing’ where this processing can avoid a condition known as ‘Anhedonia’ or reduced ‘anticipatory pleasure’ (Johnson et al., 2013, p. 68). Basically the study suggests practicing the BMAC method on a regular basis would appear to contribute to the accumulation of further positive emotional experiences.
The study also introduced the BMAC as an alternative treatment to more traditional psychotherapies which often include attempts to uncover traumatic or negative experiences in a patient’s past which may have triggered or contributed to a patient’s metal condition. Whilst this knowledge may explain the origins of a patient’s psychosis, the act of re-visiting these experiences may not be conducive to providing coping mechanisms and improvement in a patient’s condition.
Whilst this study involves participants with specific conditions, its findings provide a clear correlation between positive memories and feelings of happiness. These experiences can also be measured by any individual with a small amount of practice and effort. If any inspiration is needed, a look through the misouvi topics should provide a little inspiration for how everyday occurrences can trigger the best of past experiences.
Johnson, J., Gooding, P., Wood, A., Fair, K. & Tarrier, N. (2013). A Therapeutic Tool for Boosting Mood: The Broad-Minded Affective Coping Procedure (BMAC). Therapy and Research, 37, 61-70. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10608-012-9453-8