People with more peace of mind are better at regulating emotions?

People with more peace of mind are better at regulating emotions?

Research shows that people with higher levels of peace of mind are better at reinterpreting situations to regulate their emotions, rather than suppressing them.

Mental well-being (or happiness) has been the subject of several studies over the past decades and is now recognized to encompass two distinct dimensions: hedonic well-being (characterized by the presence of positive emotions, the absence of negative emotions, and being satisfied with one's life) and eudaimonic well-being (marked by personal growth, mastery, and a sense of purpose in life). However, until recently, peace of mind (PoM) – a form of well-being characterized by internal peace and harmony - has received very little attention.

In Eastern cultures, internal peace and harmony are considered central to well-being. A pivotal study by Lee et al. (2013) involving Chinese participants found that PoM was positively associated with life satisfaction and positive emotions, and negatively correlated with negative emotions, depression, and anxiety. But also in Western cultures people think that having PoM is crucial to their well-being. For example, Sikka et al. (2018) replicated the findings above in a group of Western participants and additionally showed a positive link between PoM and eudaimonic well-being.

The critical question is why some individuals have more PoM than others, i.e., what underlies individual differences in PoM. Although it is known that different psychological processes may be involved, decades of research have shown that one important factor explaining different aspects of well-being and ill-being is emotion regulation. Surprisingly, until now, no studies have specifically examined the relationship between PoM and emotion regulation.

To fill this gap, Pilleriin Sikka and her collaborators carried out two studies in Finland and the USA, with 417 and 303 participants respectively, assessing people’s PoM, the emotion regulation strategies they typically use, and other aspects of well-being and ill-being.

The results showed that people with higher levels of PoM displayed a greater tendency to use the strategy cognitive reappraisal, i.e., reinterpreting situations to regulate their emotional responses (reframing an anxiety-provoking situation such as taking an exam or facing a job interview as an opportunity to showcase one's knowledge and hard work), and a lesser tendency to use expressive suppression, i.e., hiding or not expressing emotions (not trying to show how anxious one is feeling).

In the article “Individual differences in peace of mind reflect adaptive emotion regulation”, published in the scientific journal Personality and Individual Differences, researchers from Stanford University (USA), Turku University (Finland), and Skövde University (Sweden) not only demonstrated that people with higher (versus lower) levels of PoM tend to use more adaptive emotion regulation strategies, but also that this relationship generalizes across two different Western cultural contexts.

Pilleriin Sikka, supported by the BIAL Foundation, emphasizes that "the ability to regulate our emotions may be important for having more PoM and, therefore, interventions focused on teaching effective emotion regulation skills may help enhance PoM".

Learn more about the project “Peace of Mind and Emotion Regulation: Survey-Based, Behavioural, and Neuroscientific Investigations” here.

People with more peace of mind are better at regulating emotions?

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