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PsychNotes December 2016

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December 2, 2016       
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Persistence, Zest for Life, and Mindfulness

by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
woman doing yoga on a ledge over a river gorge
Zest for life is a measure of resilience, a person's will and ability to persist in the face of adversity. Those who are low on this measure are more at-risk for suicide especially when they feel isolated or believe they are a burden to others.

Recent research found that mindfulness can increase the willingness to persist for those with these personality and situational factors when confronted with difficult conditions. Although the assigned task was a computerized multiplayer team task, the results showed that those trained in mindfulness were more likely to persist even when they measured low in zest for life and the experiment induced feelings of isolation and being a burden. They had less desire to quit whereas those who weren't trained in mindfulness had increased urges to quit as the task continued.

Mindfulness, by itself, may not be an answer to suicide or feelings of hopelessness but it can be an important practice for those at risk. In addition, if mindfulness can help people who are more likely than others to quit, it can be a useful method for anyone to help increase persistence when faced with adversity or a difficult task.

Collins, K.R.L., Best, I., Stritzke, W.G.K. and Page, A.C. (2016). Mindfulness and Zest for Life Buffer the Negative Effects of Experimentally-induced Perceived Burdensomeness and Thwarted Belongingness: Implications for Theories of Suicide. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 125, 704-714. DOI: 10/1037/abn0000167




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