Pollyanna was a best-selling 1913 novel by Eleanor H. Porter that became a classic of children’s literature. It now has become a popular term for someone with an optimistic outlook on life. Is it really true that such people are healthier?
The evidence certainly seen to confirm that positive thinking can really improve your life. Researchers have shown that positive thinking benefits include:
- Decreased negative stress
- Greater resistance to catching the common cold
- A sense of well-being and improved health
- Reduced risk of coronary artery disease
- Easier breathing if you have certain lung diseases
- Better coping skills in difficult situations
This same article covers the following sections:
- Positive thinking people are HAPPIER
- Positive thinking people are HEALTHIER
- Positive thinking people are MORE SUCCESSFUL
- Turning negative thinking into positive thinking
Applied Positive Psychology
More and more people are working along these lines. Martin Seligman is the creator of the term, positive psychology, and the field of applied positive psychology is growing strongly. You can read more of his thinking on his website, Authentic Happiness. He is now Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, which focuses on the empirical study of such things as positive emotions, strengths-based character, and healthy institutions.
In the UK, there are a number of well-being centres, which focus on applications and research in positive psychology, including:
- Centre for Applied Positive Psychology,
- Well-being Institute in Cambridge,
- Centre for Confidence and Well-being in Scotland, and
- Centre for Well-being — New Economics Foundation (NEF).
A Guide to Optimal Health and Performance
If you want to do some studying on Applied Positive Psychology, a new book you will find useful is Smarts and Stamina: The Busy Person’s Guide to Optimal Health and Performance by Marie-Josée Shaar and Kathryn Britton.
According to Dr. Liana Lianov of Harvard Medical School, virtually all of the top 10 leading causes of death among American adults are related to lifestyle patterns. Taking this to heart, the authors do not preach about what you ‘should’ be doing to be healthy, or promise if you follow their advice that you will look like Jennifer Aniston in 6 weeks. Their focus is on guiding the reader to improve personal everyday habits to be healthy, and they do this by helping you build your health skills. Their approach is realistic and simple: make small incremental changes to your habits.
The book is based on research on the interaction among the various aspects of good health and intelligently weaves in the research in positive psychology on self-regulation, goal pursuit, and successful change to help people make sustainable change to their behavior.
The book is written in a workbook format that offers 50 different avenues to good health with excellent reflective questions, assessments, exercises, and suggestions for changing habits in all four SaS Compass point areas. The intention is not to overwhelm people with 50 avenues but rather the authors suggest starting with one area and exploring the avenue(s) that works for you.
This workbook is a great resource for positive psychology coaches and practitioners who want to help clients achieve optimum health but it is also a great resource for anyone wanting to be healthier.
I believe you will be hearing more and more about Applied Positive Psychology in the years to come.