Positive Psychology

There is power in positive thinking. Positive emotions are linked with better health, longer life, and greater well-being. On the other hand, chronic anger, worry, and hostility increase the risk of developing heart disease.

For some people, being happy comes naturally and easily. Others need to work at it. How does one go about becoming happier? That's where positive psychology comes in. This relatively new field of research has been exploring how people and institutions can support the quest for increased satisfaction and meaning. It has uncovered several routes to happiness:

  • Feeling good: seeking pleasurable emotions and sensations
  • Engaging fully: pursuing goals and activities that engage you fully
  • Doing good: searching for meaning outside yourself
  • Gratitude: expressing appreciation for what you have in your life
  • Savoring pleasure: placing your attention on pleasure as it occurs and consciously enjoying the experience as it unfolds
  • Being mindful: focusing your attention on what is happening at the moment and accepting it without judgment
  • Self-compassion: consoling yourself as needed, taking the time to nurture yourself, and building the motivation to try again.

Positive Psychology Articles

How your attitudes affect your health

Emotional vitality—characterized by enthusiasm, hopefulness, engagement in life, and the ability to face life’s stresses with emotional balance—and positive views of aging are associated with lower risks of heart attack and stroke and may increase longevity. (Locked) More »

Simple steps to get happier and healthier

Improving overall well-being is a matter of boosting happiness and health. About 40% of what determines happiness is under one’s control. It’s not events, but responses to events that determine a level of happiness. Strategies to get happier include living in the moment, being grateful, savoring pleasure, applying one’s strengths to everyday life, and doing things for others. Strategies to improve health include taking responsibility for one’s health; setting small, reasonable goals; tracking health progress; and paying attention to the benefits of change. (Locked) More »

The magic of mindfulness

Learning to focus attention on the present moment can have benefits that affect attention span as well as health. That’s why a practice called mindfulness has become a popular form of meditation. Mindfulness can help someone become more engaged in daily activities and better appreciate life’s pleasures as they happen. That can lead to improvements in concentration and happiness. But mindfulness also brings about a well-studied physiological change that can help lower blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, adrenaline levels, and levels of the stress hormone cortisol. (Locked) More »

Preserving brain function

Engaging in meaningful activities like volunteering, caring for others, or pursuing a hobby promotes helps preserve and promote memory and brain health in old age. (Locked) More »

Raising your conscientiousness

  Of the five main personality types—agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism, and openness—conscientiousness is the one that correlates most consistently with good health. Conscientious people are less likely than others to engage in harmful behaviors and more likely to adhere to healthful ones. In addition, conscientiousness may shape career choices, friendship, the stability of marriage, and many other aspects of life that affect health and, ultimately, longevity.   (Locked) More »

Social networks and health: Communicable but not infectious

Face-to-face social interactions can be beneficial, but research suggests that they have a ripple effect that extends far beyond household and family units. Some of these effects can promote health; others are detrimental. Doctors must learn to harness this networking tool to improve public health by spreading healthful habits, positive attitudes, and wise lifestyle choices. More »