If you have a rock solid spiritual practice, the things I call emotional accelerators will catapult you to a level of peace and nirvana that mimics the bliss of nature, birth of a baby, falling in love. On the other hand, if all you have is a solid stress response available, emotional accelerators will (by statistics) bring on early morbidity/mortality. Humans are born with fully functioning sympathetic (stress response) and parasympathetic (relaxation response) systems. It is in growing up, going to school, spending time with family that we cultivate both of these systems so they suit our needs as we age. Problem is American schooling doesn't support relaxation practice-used to be in some schools we would pray (a form of the relaxation response) but now it can only be found in catholic private schools. Detention is a way to embrace the relaxation response (quiet/solitude/reflection/writing words repetitively on the blackboard....oops...dating myself) but it is a punishment practice given to those with very aggressive stress response practice.
Does lack of relaxation practice hurt?.....in theory it does. No retrospective studies on this however about 10 years ago a study found 80% of those diagnosed with an auto immune disease were found to have been exposed to a form of abuse in younger years. (hints at an association between stress and disease). Some people will listen to the ego and claim stress response carried them to be CEO, top athlete, best in school.... if you take the argument that your personal reliance on stress response is what catapulted you to the current level of society, I still disagree. All the firefighters, police officers, military personnel, martial artists, athletes I have helped- hands down agree that the level of functioning amplifies when the relaxation response is developed. Accuracy improves, problem solving is better under stress, anticipation and reaction is quicker, listening to body cues during competition is heightened to know when injury is about to happen.
So what are negative emotional accelerators?
-a vehicle (from Monday morning minivan to teenager in a loud 300+hp muscle V8)
-untreated mood disorder
-terminal diagnosis (denial)
What are positive emotional accelerators?
-a rescue team
-arts and crafts
-falling in love
-serving your true purpose in life
-terminal diagnosis (acceptance)
To become "bomb-proof" to negative accelerators takes practice (sometimes up to several years-I am coming up on my 5th year of practice via the Chopra Center and my Integrative Medical Training and I still feel like a beginner). Until one harnesses the infinite power of the relaxation response, I would try to avoid everything listed above as negative. Yes, if you go through the list, you will probably be losing weight, lowering cholesterol, bringing blood pressure down, improving sleep/sex and ditching the anxiety/depression medicines. There will be a little withdrawal from it all but the rewards are so heaven-sent once you realize what you have been missing. Bad habits seem to accumulate inconspicuously and we become so used to them, its as if they aren't so bad (...individually!) But if you looked at accumulated damage of where you are now and where you were in younger years....very depressing.
In the corporate world its called Normalization of Deviance. You kinda look at the dust in the corner and figure, its OK, will take care of it later. This is what happened to the Challenger catastrophe. That multimillion dollar project and the lives lost all because of cheap o-rings (that where thought to be "enough") Or a mechanic that doesn't tighten the wheel lugs to proper torque....they just slowly get looser and looser until..... The pounds, the blood pressure, the cholesterol, the sugar, the falling hair, the postponed date nights, all become lower priority. It takes a little bit of a fast to get back to basics. I think of it as a News Fast, a Noise Fast, a Nutrition Fast, a Negative Neighbor Fast, a Non-Activity Fast. Just like the bible, you need to remove yourself from these things for a short time to realize the beauty of life without these crappy things. Once you get there, your gut works better, brain thinks faster, DNA fights stronger.....just like the times of youth, impervious to everything.