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Positivity

Last Updated: February 28, 2023

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Positivity refers to the quality or state of being positive, optimistic, or constructive. It involves having a hopeful and confident attitude towards life, focusing on opportunities and possibilities rather than problems and limitations.

What is Positive Psychology?

illustration of a man with positive thinkingPositive Psychology is a branch of psychology that promotes well-being and a better life. While psychology often focuses on the disease model that is concerned with what is clinically wrong, positive psychology differs in that it places focus on what is right. It focuses on an individual's strengths rather than weaknesses and builds on the good in life rather than focusing on the bad, which enables us to live happy and fulfilling lives.

Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, explains that most psychotherapists and pharmacologists attempt to remove life’s disabling conditions. Still, these techniques differ from those that aid in building the enabling conditions in life, which is what positive psychology aims to do. This means these practices can improve the lives of those that do and do not suffer from mental illness. However, it should not be used as a replacement for traditional therapy but rather as a supplement. In a similar fashion as chakras and chakra stones, are used as a supplement to traditional medicine. 

 

How Does Positivity Impact Our Well-Being?

Own well-being is subjective, with individuals enjoying, valuing, and experiencing things differently. One’s subjective well-being (SWB) is how good one’s life feels and includes aspects such as happiness and life satisfaction. A high SWB leads to many positive effects, such as:

 

Positive Outlook vs. Negative Outlook

positive vs negative outlooksHaving a positive outlook on life is essential for improving your wellbeing and achieving success. A positive attitude can help you stay motivated, persevere when faced with challenges, and avoid negative thoughts from taking over your mind. On the other hand, having a negative outlook can lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, leading to low self-esteem and lack of motivation.

Positivity means you believe that everything happens for the best in the end, and see opportunities in every setback. You focus on solutions instead of problems, and view challenges as an opportunity to grow. On the other hand, having a negative outlook can have the opposite effect – you might become pessimistic and think that nothing good ever happens to you.

 

The Benefits of a Positive Mind

Studies from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that positivity benefits one’s health in many ways. Positivity is associated with lowering death rates, decreasing rates of depression, lower levels of distress and pain, greater resistance to illnesses, better psychological and physical well-being, and improved cardiovascular health.

Lowers Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: Reduced cardiovascular mortality is one of the most studied outcomes associated with positivity. Research has revealed that those with a more optimistic outlook are significantly less likely to die from cardiovascular illnesses and stroke than those who are overly pessimistic. This is partly because people with an upbeat attitude tend to take better care of themselves as they feel more in control of their health.

Reduced Stress Levels: Positivity is linked to improving mental and emotional responses. Positive people tend to react to stressful situations with resilience and determination rather than a negative outlook. This means that they are better able to cope with the stressors of daily life, resulting in a stronger ability to deal with difficult situations.

Boosts physical health: People with an optimistic outlook tend to engage in healthier behaviors, such as exercising more frequently and eating a balanced diet. This contributes to improved cardiovascular health and overall wellness.

 

The PERMA Model

Dr. Seligman’s PERMA theory of well-being consists of a model that includes five building blocks, which, when cultivated, enables greater well-being. Individuals will obtain greater well-being with varying levels of each of the five building blocks, as what a good life looks like varies from person to person. The PERMA model is as follows:

Positive Emotions: include feelings such as happiness, pleasure, and comfort. We can increase our mental positivity about the past through gratitude and forgiveness, the present through mindfulness and savoring experiences, and in the future by building hope and optimism. While these positive emotions alone will not significantly boost well-being, experiencing these emotions are still important and can lead to immediate satisfaction and pleasure.

Engagement: include deep levels of engagement in a particular activity, often defined as flow. Flow is a state in which an individual focuses on a challenging task as their self-awareness and sense of time fade. Flow applies to many activities, such as playing a musical instrument, performing physical activities, cooking, and conversing.

Relationships: include social bonds, feeling loved and cared for by loved ones, and feeling integrated within society. They are often able to amplify experiences that contribute to well-being. Relationships often give meaning to life as well as provide support when one is feeling down. In a relationship, “givers” experience more meaning, and “takers” experience more happiness. Give back to others, and accept the generosity of others.

Meaning in Life: refers to finding purpose and direction in life and feeling part of something greater than oneself. Knowing one’s best strengths and using them to belong to and in service of something greater is a great way to find meaning. Doing something philanthropic to help another has a strong effect. An example illustrating this shows that spending money on others positively impacts an individual's happiness more than spending money on oneself.

Accomplishment: is success, competence, and feeling a sense of personal achievement, which allows us to thrive. A sense of personal ambition and drive is essential for our well-being, and people pursue accomplishment even when it does not lead to the other aspects of PERMA.

 

Flow

flow explained, as in positive flowAchieving the state of flow is the main component of living an engaging life. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the creator of flow theory, describing it as a “state of positive well-being that ideally balances the degree of challenge with the skill of a person.” It is a state of hypofrontality, in which there is a decreased cerebral blood flow in the prefrontal cortex, with the exception of one's executive attention. This allows for the intense concentration experienced in flow by selectively disengaging other higher cognitive abilities of the prefrontal cortex.

When in flow, the individual enters an ecstatic state, different from everyday life. They experience maximal concentration working at the peak of their capacity and begin to lose track of time. Practitioners achieve this state when they have completed a difficult challenge and obtained a strong enough set of skills.

When achieved, individuals lose focus on time and the self, becoming solely occupied with the task at hand, which leads to high levels of performance, creativity, and pleasure. This occurs because the individual is too focused to have the cognitive resources to spend on anything else.

Individuals that spend more time in a flow state experience a higher quality of life as they report higher levels of concentration, creativity, and positive emotions. Obtaining flow can only happen if the challenge is easy enough to match one’s skills are strong enough to match the challenge.

 

What flow feels like

  1. Completely involved in what we are doing -  focused, concentrated
  2. A sense of ecstasy - of being outside everyday reality
  3. Great inner clarity - knowing what needs to happen and how well we will get there
  4. Knowing that the activity is doable - that our skills are adequate for the task
  5. A sense of serenity - no worries about oneself, and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of the ego
  6. Timelessness - thoroughly focused on the present, hours seem to pass by in minutes
  7. Intrinsic motivation - Whatever produces flow becomes its reward

 

Positive Thinking

Positive thinking is quickly becoming a popular health trend among health departments nationwide. Studies have shown that having a positive attitude and outlook on life can lead to several health benefits, such as improved immune system function, better sleep quality, reduced stress levels, and even increased longevity. Positive thinking means approaching unpleasantness more positively and productively.

Developing a positive attitude and outlook on life requires consciously recognizing and replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. This can be done through simple practices such as smiling more, setting achievable goals, and reframing failures as opportunities for learning. Additionally, the health department encourages people to talk positively to themselves and practice mindfulness activities such as yoga or meditation. With the right mindset, it is possible to reap many health benefits from positivity.

 

What is a positivity rate?

The positivity rate indicates the proportion of positive emotions people experience during any given period. It helps assess how well a person is doing regarding emotional positivity and helps identify areas where they need to improve their outlook. This rate can also measure overall happiness since positivity is critical to overall well-being. People can calculate their positivity rate by measuring the number of positive emotions they feel relative to their total emotional experiences during any given period.

 

Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations are positive phrases and statements used to challenge negative thoughts. Self-affirmation theory explains that individuals try to maintain positivity and good views of themselves, and they resist factors that threaten ideas of self-competence. When threatened, self-affirmations can restore one's sense of self-competence by providing a broader view of the self and allowing for focus on sources of self-worth that are beyond the threat (Cascio 2016). A general sense of the self allows us to become more resilient to these threats. It reduces reactivity to danger, weakening any threats to personal integrity and protecting overall psychological well-being.

While affirmations can be useful, according to the self-affirmation theory, an essential aspect is that the affirmations one uses must reflect their core personal values. Self-affirmations should be centered around positive actions that reinforce a sense of self-identity rather than some arbitrary idea that goes against one’s core values. One's strengths should be used to guide their affirmations.

Affirmations can decrease stress, increase well-being, improve academic performance and relationship outcomes, and make people more open to behavior change. However, while practicing self-affirmation, individuals often need to be explicitly aware of the effects of self-affirmation, which can make it challenging to introspect on the experience.

Practitioners should repeat affirmations three to five times daily to reinforce positivity. Writing down affirmations in a journal and practicing them in the mirror are good methods for making them more effective.

 

Daily Affirmations for Positivity

  • I am confident and capable of what I do.
  • I am the architect of my life; I build its foundation and choose its contents.
  • I am superior to negative thoughts and low actions.
  • I possess the qualities needed to be highly successful.
  • Happiness is a choice. I base my happiness on my accomplishments and the blessings I've been given.
  • My future is an ideal projection of what I envision now.
  • I am at peace with all that has happened, is happening, and will happen.
  • My marriage is becoming stronger, deeper, and more stable each day.
  • My business is growing, expanding, and thriving.
  • I deserve to be employed and paid well for my time, efforts, and ideas. Each day, I am closer to finding the perfect job for me.
  • My perfect partner is coming into my life sooner than expected.
  • I set high standards for my academic achievement. By putting in time and effort, I can accomplish what I set out to achieve.

 

ANAHANA MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

MENTAL HEALTH WIKIS

Stress Management

Stress Management Activities

Stress Management for Teens

Workplace Stress

Stress and Pressure

 

MENTAL HEALTH BLOGS

How to Relax Your Mind

Brain Fog

What is Narcissism

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Digital Detox

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Shadow Work

Positivity

 

Resources

  1. Harvard Health  - "Positivity Psychology" - https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/positive-psychology
  2. Mayo Clinic - "Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress" - https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950
  3. Psychology Today - "Positivity Psychology" - https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/happiness/positive-psychology
  4. Positive Psychology Program - "The Ultimate List of Positive Psychology Books" - https://positivepsychology.com/positive-psychology-books/
  5. The Journal of Positive Psychology - "Routledge" - https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rpos20/current

Disclaimer

*The contents of this article are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making any health-related changes or if you have any questions or concerns about your health. Anahana is not liable for any errors, omissions, or consequences that may occur from using the information provided.

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