When having a disagreement with one’s partner, what can help bring down one’s blood pressure?
Researchers found that those couples who demonstrated “humble complementarity” reported greater relationship satisfaction after a stressful disagreement and lower blood pressure (Tongeren et al 2019). These are relationships characterized by both partners exhibiting humble behavior (as opposed to one or both exhibiting arrogance).
Even when going through periods of strain (for example, when couples transition into parenthood for the first time), humility has been found to ease adjustment and lower levels of depression. This is especially the case when both partners act in humble ways; humility reduces defensiveness and strengthens trust and overall relationship commitment.
If only one partner acts in a humble manner, the benefits of humility to the relationship as a whole are compromised, likely due to the increased risk of one partner feeling exploited by the other.
So being humble is not only a virtue but it’s also a source of relationship resilience as long as both parties are on board.
Check out the Roots of Empathy Program, that teaches school age children across the globe empathy, developing their social-emotional competence, and decreasing rates of aggression.
When we feel awe, we get in touch with something larger than ourselves. For a moment we transcend the challenging circumstances of our lives and the confines of our self-concept. We feel expanded, savoring of the present moment and, perhaps, in touch with a sense of spirituality.
Researchers recently investigated whether awe additionally helps us when we’re feeling at a loss, deprived of something that we possess (Koh, Tong, Yuen 2019). Given that we can perceive possessions as an extension of ourselves, their loss can be painful and even predict impaired mental health. Would awe buffer that?
Three experiments were conducted examining the effect of awe on real and imagined loss in laboratory and natural settings. The results: participants reported feeling less negatively about the loss of a possession when experiencing awe (as induced, for example, by viewing picturesque scenes of people exploring nature).
Each increase in the amount of awe experienced corresponded with less “troubledness” participants felt in relationship to their loss. The buffering effect of awe was significant and separate from the effect of other positive emotions (e.g., happiness, gratitude, contentment or serenity) in coping with loss of personal artefacts.
The findings suggest that the unique positive influence of awe in reducing negative feelings associated with loss may be due to the diminished attention we give to the self when we feel awe.
The self-identification projected onto our possessions may fade in the wake of being awed by something larger or more important than ourselves. Thus, we become less distressed should a possession be lost. This can be helpful in skillfully coping with future loss – that is, after initially registering and grieving the loss, we can choose to then focus on what inspires us, alleviating negative emotional aftermath.
Want to learn about something awe-inspiring?
Check out recent photographs of the legendary black leopard of Africa, last documented 100 years ago.
Check out Nature Connection, an organization founded in 1983 that brings nature to people who are unable to go outdoors. The Massachusetts organization brings nature programs directly to at risk youth and elders and those with disabilities that prevent them from accessing it outside.