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The power of positive psychology: finding happiness in a cold ocean swim

July 27, 2011
  • By Kay Cahill Allison, Former Editor, Harvard Health

About the Author

photo of Kay Cahill Allison

Kay Cahill Allison, Former Editor, Harvard Health

Kay Cahill was editor of Harvard Health Publishing’ Special Health Reports from 1998 to 2012. Before joining Harvard Health, she created content for a variety of media including newspapers, television, books, radio, and electronic publishing. She … See Full Bio
View all posts by Kay Cahill Allison


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February 6, 2012

very nice article

January 24, 2012

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Apple AirPlay
January 24, 2012

Today, while I was at work, my sister stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a 40 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is completely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

January 17, 2012

Happiness is just a state of mind of what you are thinking. If you think positive then you’ll defintely become happy. And lastly happy new year….

January 6, 2012

I enjoyed reading this article.

January 4, 2012

This is a very interesting article. I agree that it’s important to think positive and to be happy. Whatever we think we become.

Heather Smith
January 3, 2012

We must always concentrate on the positive outcome to achieve the results we want.Happines is a part of being healthy. Thanks for this positive and wonderful post.

December 28, 2011

I really like what you’re doing here. Keep posting that way. Take care!

Pamela Ritche
December 13, 2011

Hi, provides helpful and accurate consumer health information about the side effects that typically arise from the use of prescription or over the counter medications, natural or health supplements and even certain types of food. [URL removed by moderator]

November 29, 2011

These insights really question our foundations. How can we logically make the choice that will make us happy when we are so ground in bad habits?

Self Discovery
November 17, 2011

This is a great article.

One thing I would have wished it indicated is, for which segment of the population would this be an immediate or effective remedy.

It does not work for all.

The power of positive thinking has been pushed even before there was any data available to prove it.

But for most people with deep anxiety issues or anger or depression, the solution is out of reach.

Self compassion especially is not a simple choice for people who deeply believe that it would be improper to do so. This being reinforced by years of negative feedback from their parents.

But for relatively normal life, definitely, the collection of methods is very much on track.

Chantal Piscopo
November 2, 2011

This is a very interesting article. I agree that it’s important to think positive and to be happy. Whatever we think we become.
[URL removed by moderator]

October 19, 2011

I found this article very inspiring and gives a good message to keep your head up and stay positive because their is a lot to live for but modern medicine is the only real cure for many of the “deadly” diseases sadly.


October 19, 2011

An fascinating discussion is value comment. I believe that you need to write extra on this topic, it might not be a taboo topic but typically individuals are not sufficient to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers

CB Doctor
September 27, 2011

Positive feelings yes can cure a lot of diseases but not them all. I found this article very inspiring and gives a good message to keep your head up and stay positive because their is a lot to live for but modern medicine is the only real cure for many of the “deadly” diseases sadly. I loved reading this because it makes you understand that you need to appreciate life and stay positive in the worst of situations.

September 3, 2011

I totally agree. So many diseases will be cured by our body if we develop positive feelings and live happily.

[URL removed by moderator]

August 28, 2011

Health and Longevity are intimately tied into mind state.

November 22, 2011

If you have a healthy mind the body will follow. I dont the think the reverse is true all the time however.

August 22, 2011

faith and belief in Jesus definitely helps for me – that floods me with JOY, its a very nicely done article,Thanks

MP Sidhu
August 21, 2011

An inspiring article. I think to be positive or negative is partly determined by your genes. The ‘flow’experience is a common one which many of us must have gone through one time or the other.Many years back,one day I was working on my thesis and so engrossed I was that I didn’t notice our part time maid’s coming and leaving after finishing her work.

However perusing such articles periodically keeps you on the right track in life.

Jeremiah Johnson
August 19, 2011

Very interesting and well written post. I have seen the correlation between overall happiness and overall good health in my travels. It is only reasonable that people would thrive in good health and good state of mind when they are happy. People, often with very little monetary worth live long and
happy lives because of their state of mind. Thanks for the informative article.

August 2, 2011

Great post ! I truly agree.We must always concentrate on the positive outcome to achieve the results we want.The longer we focus on negativity, the longer it will take to manifest your desires. Start focussing on the brighter side now!

Narin Dul
August 2, 2011

Dear all of doctor,

Thank you very very much for your best skill on this website.

I need know more on how to change mind from Negative to Positive thinking?


August 2, 2011

nice post..

Kaynaz Nasseri’s psycho-therapy practice is built on a broad range of training and knowledge that allows her to address a wide variety of issues, some of which include relationships, mood, school concerns, life transitions, and other psychology issues. Her approach to psychotherapy and psychological assessment is warmly interactive, providing support, insight and useful feedback to help one resolve difficulties and achieve one’s goals.

Stephen Ryan
August 1, 2011

I would like to know more about Prof. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, cited in the article, but I want to make sure that I look up the right man. Does he have a middle name?

August 1, 2011

Happiness and laughter are key. It is amazing how powerful of a role each play in our mental health, which in turn affects our physical health. I have started a project of my own called Project: I Wanna Live again (, aimed at reducing anxiety and stress through knowledge, the senses and laughter. I am in the process of gathering successful positive experiences and would love for you to share yours! It’s all about spreading the word. Have an excellent day


Tom Abbott
August 1, 2011

Under “Contact Us” below, the “Change address” link does NOT work!!!!!!!!!!!! This is VERY irritating, and I am on the brink of just unsubscribing altogether. Would someone PLEASE fix this? (I am emailing Tech Support in the meantime to get help with my change of email address)

P.J. Skerrett
August 2, 2011

Tom — Thanks for bringing the broken “Change Address” link to our attention. It’s been fixed.

Pat Skerrett
Harvard Health Publishing

July 29, 2011

Wonderful article, thank you! Moreover, music can potentially make people feel things, that they would not feel otherwise.
[URL removed by moderator]

July 28, 2011

Did the study discover that healthier people were happier, or that happier people were healthier?

I know I’m cranky when I’m sick. And I rather expect that people who are under stress are both less happy and less healthy.

Not a magical positive-thinking result; a completely to-be-expected correlation.

July 28, 2011

God intends happiness for human life by giving us much and the impectus to create what we even desire. But me my HR Manager is frustrating my life. I leave it to GOD.

July 28, 2011

I agree, happiness is a very important part of our lives, it’s a part of being healthy and performing at optimal levels. Being happy not only helps you but it helps others as well. People enjoy being around people that are happy! People who are negative and sad all the time will drain your energy!

Dennis James Deegan CTM
July 27, 2011

Excellent article! I liked the description of ‘experience flow’ as a special state contributing to a form of exhileration.

Commenting has been closed for this post.

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