It’s no doubt that we all desire to radiate positivity. Encompassing the trait of positivity, in my opinion, is one of the most virtuous and exemplary characteristics one can have. It often signifies good naturedness, friendliness, health in the mind and body, resilience and self-confidence. Being positive is also linked to experiencing greater happiness and subjective well-being. In a study examining the happiest 10% of college students, these students also showed evidence of great mental health and social relationships. How can we cultivate this positivity in our own lives? How can we beam and illuminate this positive energy from within?
Firstly, I’d highly recommend you read up on my previous blog posts on the topics of “How to Generate Happiness” and “Regulating Positive and Negative Emotions“. Those offer great explanations and go in-depth about happiness, positivity, their definitions, benefits, and how to achieve more of these feelings in the context of mindfulness. Having a foundation in those topics, you can begin to appreciate that much of physical health is indeed linked to one’s level of happiness. Happiness consequently, may perhaps lie in the reduction of tension through the satisfaction of one’s goals and needs, or in certain enjoyable activities.
Scientists reason that having a positive affect shapes the brain in several ways: increasing dopamine levels (known as the happy hormone!), influencing our reward system (located in the frontal lobe of our brain), and acting on our pre-frontal cortex areas of the brain. The pre-frontal cortex has functions such as creative problem solving, integration of ideas, understanding multiple perspectives of a situation, cooperativeness, social responsibility, negotiation skills, generosity, along with focusing on negative information when necessary.
Furthermore, a high subjective well-being predicts a lower mortality rate, fewer heart attacks, better survival of heart disease, and a reduced incidence of strokes! Those who report a high subjective well-being are likewise more likely to maintain healthy habits such as reduced levels of drinking and smoking. Generally speaking, studies have also shown that individuals who have higher traits of positive affect consequently have fewer colds after virus exposure. This is likely due to the association of higher levels of immunoglobulin A – a natural antibody in our bodies that boosts immune function. Who knew that staying positive could help with improving your immune system!
And the benefits don’t stop there: remaining positive in your life has its effects on the work and relationship sector as well. Studies have found that those with higher positivity tend to achieve more prestigious jobs, have better income, or even a better performance evaluation down the road. With relationships, studies show a greater probability and satisfaction of marriage, a more positive perception of interactions with your partner, more cooperation during times of conflict, greater ability to negotiate solutions, and more interest in one’s social activities and friendships.
Research claims that to develop a trait of happiness, it is roughly 50% genetics, 10% life circumstances (which you have little to no control of), and 40% choice. If you are not as happy or positive as you’d like to be, you have the choice to change that with your daily activities and practices. We must recognize and remember that every day is a gift. It’s an opportunity to become a better, more positive and happy you. And it all starts from your mindset and daily practices. Shakespeare once said,
“There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so”
In other words, if we’re experiencing negativity and adversity in our lives, let’s look at that from a different angle, a different perspective. Let’s aim to find the silver lining, and see that perhaps whatever is happening is for our highest good. Staying upset, worried, anxious, or angry won’t help in any way with achieving greater health and life satisfaction. It is up to us if we want to change how we feel and reap the benefits of positivity. It may be hard at first, but I challenge you to imagine your best possible self. See it, feel it, believe that you are already there. Then use every opportunity that presents itself to show yourself that you can be and already are the best version of yourself.
A greater subjective well-being comes with more energy and enthusiasm to pursue significant life goals, be active, be social, help others, find positive meanings, and be more open to circumstances in your life. Let’s aim to live and breathe all things positively, let’s count our blessings every day, let’s always express gratitude, and let’s imagine our best possible selves.