If you immediately answered with a “very” or “yeah, I’m positive,” then stop and rethink your answer. Give yourself five minutes. Positive people exude their positivity in everything they do. They may not be eternally smiling, stereotypical balls of sunshine, but they do have a “can do, will do, will succeed” attitude that helps them get through the day.
But is there a purpose behind all of this positivity? It makes sense that being positive can increase your productivity and lift your mood some, that’s for sure. There’s also that other quip that people like to throw around that you should think about: “being more positive is healthy for you!”
Is this actually true though? Is there any direct correlation between being positive and being healthy?
In reality, there have actually been quite a few studies done on the subject. Many scientists and researchers wanted to officially find out how positivity affects a person’s health.
For instance, a 2015 study shows that what you say on Twitter could actually be directly correlated to a person’s heart health.
Based on the data found, users that used more optimistic language presented a lower risk for their mortality in terms of heart disease. This means that users that used words in their tweets like “stronger” and “faith” were healthier than those who used more negative language or who had indiscernible leanings.
Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley conducted a study based on the emotion of awe. Awe, amazement and wonderment are all positive emotions that can positively affect your health, based on the research that discovered the emotions have natural, anti-inflammatory properties.
The Berkeley study involves researches looking at subjects that had recently experienced awe versus those who had not. Those who had experienced awe were found to have lower levels of cytokines, inflammatory markers that may cause autoimmune diseases, depression, Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
One of the study’s authors spoke to news website The Huffington Post about her thoughts on the study and subject.
“Rather than seeing a walk through the park or a trip to the museum as an indulgence, we hope people will view these kind of experiences as important ways to promote a healthy body in addition to a healthy mind…”
Another study conducted on positive emotions was spearheaded by positive psychologist Barbara Frederickson. Her research focused on the effects of loving-kindness meditation (known as LKM) which is a traditional Buddhist practice that combines meditation with compassion and collective love within a group.
She found that the boosted feelings of compassion led to improvement in resting vagal tone. The vagus nerve has to do with a person’s overall physical health as well as their feelings of connection and love.
Frederickson had this to say about her findings:
“In a way, our bodies are designed for love, because the more we love, the more healthy we become.”