A new Scandinavian study finds that peace of mind tends to result in a better dream life. The study is the first to look at how peace of mind relates to dream content.
Since most dream research is conducted on those suffering from various disorders, researchers know surprisingly little about the positive side of dreaming. So, the question has remained unanswered: Do happier people tend to have happier dreams?
The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, addressed how dream emotions are related to not only different aspects of waking ill-being, but also to different aspects of waking well-being, including a very important, but often overlooked, aspect of happiness — peace of mind.
Peace of mind is a state of inner peace and harmony, a more complex and durable state of well-being traditionally associated with happiness in Eastern cultures.
Although it has rarely been measured directly in studies of well-being, peace of mind has always been regarded as central to human flourishing within several philosophical and spiritual traditions, said co-author Dr. Antti Revonsuo, professor of psychology at the University of Turku in Finland and professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Skövde in Sweden.
For the study, healthy participants completed questionnaires that measured their waking ill-being and well-being. During the following three weeks they kept a daily dream diary in which, every morning upon waking, they reported all their dreams and rated the emotions they experienced in those dreams.
The findings reveal that participants with higher levels of peace of mind reported more positive dream emotions, whereas those with higher levels of anxiety reported more negative dream emotions.
Surprisingly, those aspects that are typically considered and measured as “well-being” were not related to dream content. So there seems to be something unique about peace of mind and anxiety, said lead author Pilleriin Sikka, doctoral candidate in psychology at the University of Turku and a lecturer in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Skövde.
The researchers propose that those with stronger peace of mind may be better at regulating their emotions not only in the waking state but also while dreaming, whereas the opposite may be true for those with higher levels of anxiety.
In future studies, the researchers would like to explore whether better emotion regulation capacity, and self-control in general, is indeed something that characterizes people with higher levels of peace of mind, and whether improving such skills can also lead to more peace of mind, said Sikka.
Source: University of Turku