COMING CLEAN: Voting: It Just Feels Good

Research shows that the simple act of voting can have a profound effect on feeling good about yourself.

Leaving my polling place today, I felt like doing a few chores. Tidy up the home office, knock out a blog post, follow-up on some emails, plan a healthy dinner. Then tonight, I kicked butt in my workout. Putting a check mark next to “vote” on my to-do list ignited a greater feeling of accomplishment.

There has to be something to that, right?

Indeed there is. In a 2004 report, psychologist Marc Zimmerman, PhD, at the University of Michigan’s School of Health, notes that empowerment is part of overall good health. It’s about learning how to take control when and where you can, such as the case with voting, he says. You participate, you are engaged, and you are part of the community. Fulfilling your civic responsibility, it seems, fuels other worthy goals.

woman holding i voted sticker

We talk a lot about connections here at Experience Life and on RevolutionaryAct.com, so this line of thought, that one good act prompts another, would make sense. I would argue that it goes deeper than simply fulfilling one’s civic duty or participating in community involvement: it’s about taking a stand.

Now bear with me on this theory. Whenever I feel indifferent, say about what to eat for dinner, I usually cave and order take-out. If I don’t make any plans for the night, I end up watching TV, and often nothing in particular. But when I make a choice, whether that’s a healthy dinner or a social night with friends, I always feel better. Smarter. In charge. And that seeps into other areas of my life.

Now, I care a great deal about this election and the issues, even if I haven’t posted about it here or on Facebook. I’ve been tempted, believe me, because I do have strong convictions and there are a number of hot issues this election.* But I’ve decided to keep my focus on health, which has become a political issue — and there, I’m biased. We vote every day with our forks, and I vote for whole, nutritious foods. Occasionally, I vote for a slice of gluten-free chocolate torte, but that’s my right as an American.

Seriously, though, as the polls close here in Minnesota, I’m feeling good about filling in my ballot today and making my choices heard. I hope that you all voted for what you believe in, and that you kept the greater good in mind. Every vote counts, and every choice we make should make us proud.

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*My public silence on which way I vote all stems back to a class at the University of Minnesota with Star Tribune reporter Paul McEnroe, who urged our group of young journalists to never share or advertise our political leanings in an effort to remain objective. It always stuck with me. Over the years since McEnroe’s class, I’ve read and witnessed very active debates over the neutrality of journalists. We’re people, after all, and people have opinions. One can only hope to cover an issue fairly and equally, and not let personal bias influence the piece. This was also before Facebook and subscribers and public pages, which creates another conversation about allowing readers a glimpse of your personality, too (Steve Myers covered this subject in 2009 after the last presidential elections). Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but those opinions don’t always speak for the publication or company. I’ve chosen to stay mum online.

 

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