laura lewis mantell, md

About Positive Psychology

Positive Psychology is about what is right with us, and what’s working for us, not what is broken. It is the study of the conditions and processes that lead to flourishing and optimum performance. In order for people to flourish, to have a sense of wellbeing, it has been determined that we need to achieve, among other things, an optimal ratio of authentic positive emotions - not superficial smiles – to normal negative emotions. This actually enables us to become more open, flexible, curious, confident, strong and able to bounce back from hard times. Research shows that people who can do this tend to report the highest degree of well-being.

We each have a happiness set-point, an innate tendency for a certain amount of happiness, that accounts for 50% of our sense of our happiness or wellbeing. The happiest people are not that way because of their life circumstances. They are happy because they take what comes, the good and the bad, change what they can, roll with the punches and truly appreciate the good things in their lives on a daily basis. Even if your set-point is low, you have the power within yourself to create and increase the joy in your life.

So, positive emotions enhance our lives and build our inner resources; they cause us to be resilient, make richer social connections and actually expand our brains, causing our memories to work better. Also, positive people are perceived to be more attractive.

What’s more, people who experience more positive emotions report fewer physical symptoms and highly positive people have more effective immune systems. Over the long term, positive emotions can reduce the incidence of disease and even increase longevity.

Our wellbeing also depends on having engagement in our lives: doing something that completely absorbs us, so that time stands still. We also need meaning and purpose in life. And we need a sense of accomplishment, the experience of pursuing something and mastering it, and finally, we need positive connections to and relationships with other people.

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