Research in the growing field of positive psychology suggests good emotions can contribute to happiness and even physical health.
Research in the growing field of positive psychology suggests good emotions can contribute to happiness and even physical health. (Hector Casanova/The Kansas City Star/MCT)

In her book "The Myths of Happiness," UC Riverside psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky looks at 10 different adult crisis points -- beginning with relationships (marriage, singlehood, kids), moving on to money and work (job malaise, financial success and ruin) -- and ending with problems inherent to middle age and beyond (health issues, aging, regrets) which can often be positive turning points in our lives.

More from Lyubomirsky's book:

"Our crisis points -- times when in an instant we feel our lives will never be the same, when we come to a realization or take in a weighty piece of news -- are key moments in our lives. They are the moments that we remember and pivot on, the ones we need to consider and respond to.

"This is true not just because such moments are 'big,' but because even seemingly devastating crossroads can be gateways to positive changes in our lives. Recent research reveals that people who have experienced some adversity (for example, several negative events or life-changing moments) are ultimately happier (and less distressed, traumatized, stressed, or impaired) than those who have experienced no adversity at all. Having a history of enduring several devastating moments 'toughens us up' and makes us better prepared to manage later challenges and traumas, big and small."

Contact Angela Hill at ahill@bayareanewsgroup.com, read her Sunday Give 'Em Hill column, or follow her on Twitter @giveemhill.