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

Can personality affect heart disease risk?

People with type D personalities are anxious, irritable, and angry. They also tend to feel ill at ease in social situations and uncomfortable opening up to others—and they have a higher-than-average risk for heart disease. The negative emotions that characterize Type D temperaments trigger the stress response. Repeated surges of stress hormones in the body can cause blood pressure to rise and make the blood more likely to clot. Stress also activates the immune system, triggering inflammation that damages blood vessels. (Locked) More »

An outlook better than optimism?

Instead of being pessimistic or optimistic, it’s better for well-being to focus on reality and not on just positive or negative outcomes. To cultivate such a realistic outlook, one can focus on the present moment and take refuge in it; build a social network so one can lean on friends and family for support; identify with things that are more enduring than a current situation, such as nature or humanity; and focus on things that bring meaning to one’s life. More »

How to stay motivated

Want to make a change but wondering how to stay motivated? Dr. Srini Pillay talks about the things that can impact personal motivation and the power of a sense of meaning to help you stick with your goals. More »

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 »