Is a positive attitude good for your health?

Is a positive attitude good for your health?

Can a positive or negative attitude have an effect on your health? Researchers in the field of positive psychology say yes. We talked to Angela Buttimer, MS, NCC, RYT, LPC, a facilitator at Thomas F. Chapman Family Cancer Wellness at Piedmont, to learn more about positivity.

What is positivity?

Buttimer teaches a concept from positive psychology called "eudaimonia" in her classes.

Eudaimonia is a sense of contentment and well-being you can develop by cultivating:

  • Curiosity

  • Hope

  • Joy

  • Purpose

"Cultivating these top forms of eudaimonia can cause changes in our neurophysiology that improve our immune system and quality of life, build stress resistance, and reduce inflammation, depression, and anxiety," says Buttimer.

How to cultivate positivity

You can develop positivity by:

  • Connecting to your religious or spiritual beliefs.

  • Finding little things that bring you joy, such as taking a walk outside, reading a good book or sipping a cup of tea while watching the birds play outside your window.

  • Joining a support group.

  • Learning a new hobby or skill.

  • Looking at what brings you meaning and purpose. This could mean volunteering for a cause near to your heart or spending more time with family and fewer hours at the office.

  • Reading about a topic that interests you.

  • Recognizing and cultivating your strengths.

  • Spending time with positive, uplifting people.

The danger of insincere positivity

True positivity is not about having a "Pollyanna" attitude where you pretend everything is okay even though it's not, cautions Buttimer.

"Insincere happiness can actually have a negative impact on your health. It's important to honor your feelings. Repression, suppression and avoidance of negative emotions are connected to disease," she says.

Positivity, or eudaimonia, can coexist with what we call "negative emotions."

"You can still have eudaimonia even when you're feeling tired, depressed or anxious," she explains. "If you invest in cultivating positivity, it will be there to support you even during negative emotions."

Note: If you experience persistent feelings of anxiety or depression, seek a professional counselor or social worker for support.


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