<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Positive affect and optimism

Taking a cue from positive psychology, extensive research over the last 10-15 years has examined the importance of positive psychological attributes in physical well-being. Qualities that help promote psychological well-being (e.g., having meaning and purpose in life, a sense of autonomy, positive emotions, and satisfaction with life) are linked with a range of favorable health outcomes (especially improved cardiovascular health) mainly through their relationships with biological functions and health behaviors (such as diet, physical activity, and sleep quality) (Boehm&Kubzansky, 2012). The quality that has received attention is positive affect    , which refers to pleasurable engagement with the environment, such as happiness, joy, enthusiasm, alertness, and excitement (Watson, Clark,&Tellegen, 1988). The characteristics of positive affect, as with negative affect (discussed earlier), can be brief, long-lasting, or trait-like (Pressman&Cohen, 2005). Independent of age, gender, and income, positive affect is associated with greater social connectedness, emotional and practical support, adaptive coping efforts, and lower depression; it is also associated with longevity and favorable physiological functioning (Steptoe, O’Donnell, Marmot,&Wardle, 2008).

Positive affect also serves as a protective factor against heart disease. In a 10-year study of Nova Scotians, the rate of heart disease was 22% lower for each one-point increase on the measure of positive affect, from 1 (no positive affect expressed) to 5 (extreme positive affect) (Davidson, Mostofsky,&Whang, 2010). In terms of our health, the expression, “don’t worry, be happy” is helpful advice indeed. There has also been much work suggesting that optimism    —the general tendency to look on the bright side of things—is also a significant predictor of positive health outcomes.

Although positive affect and optimism are related in some ways, they are not the same (Pressman&Cohen, 2005). Whereas positive affect is mostly concerned with positive feeling states, optimism has been regarded as a generalized tendency to expect that good things will happen (Chang, 2001). It has also been conceptualized as a tendency to view life’s stressors and difficulties as temporary and external to oneself (Peterson&Steen, 2002). Numerous studies over the years have consistently shown that optimism is linked to longevity, healthier behaviors, fewer postsurgical complications, better immune functioning among men with prostate cancer, and better treatment adherence (Rasmussen&Wallio, 2008). Further, optimistic people report fewer physical symptoms, less pain, better physical functioning, and are less likely to be rehospitalized following heart surgery (Rasmussen, Scheier,&Greenhouse, 2009).

Flow

Another factor that seems to be important in fostering a deep sense of well-being is the ability to derive flow from the things we do in life. Flow is described as a particular experience that is so engaging and engrossing that it becomes worth doing for its own sake (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997). It is usually related to creative endeavors and leisure activities, but it can also be experienced by workers who like their jobs or students who love studying (Csikszentmihalyi, 1999). Many of us instantly recognize the notion of flow. In fact, the term derived from respondents’ spontaneous use of the term when asked to describe how it felt when what they were doing was going well. When people experience flow, they become involved in an activity to the point where they feel they lose themselves in the activity. They effortlessly maintain their concentration and focus, they feel as though they have complete control of their actions, and time seems to pass more quickly than usual (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997). Flow is considered a pleasurable experience, and it typically occurs when people are engaged in challenging activities that require skills and knowledge they know they possess. For example, people would be more likely report flow experiences in relation to their work or hobbies than in relation to eating. When asked the question, “Do you ever get involved in something so deeply that nothing else seems to matter, and you lose track of time?” about 20% of Americans and Europeans report having these flow-like experiences regularly (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997).

Although wealth and material possessions are nice to have, the notion of flow suggests that neither are prerequisites for a happy and fulfilling life. Finding an activity that you are truly enthusiastic about, something so absorbing that doing it is reward itself (whether it be playing tennis, studying Arabic, writing children’s novels, or cooking lavish meals) is perhaps the real key. According to Csikszentmihalyi (1999), creating conditions that make flow experiences possible should be a top social and political priority. How might this goal be achieved? How might flow be promoted in school systems? In the workplace? What potential benefits might be accrued from such efforts?

In an ideal world, scientific research endeavors should inform us on how to bring about a better world for all people. The field of positive psychology promises to be instrumental in helping us understand what truly builds hope, optimism, happiness, healthy relationships, flow, and genuine personal fulfillment.

Summary

Happiness is conceptualized as an enduring state of mind that consists of the capacity to experience pleasure in daily life, as well as the ability to engage one’s skills and talents to enrich one’s life and the lives of others. Although people around the world generally report that they are happy, there are differences in average happiness levels across nations. Although people have a tendency to overestimate the extent to which their happiness set points would change for the better or for the worse following certain life events, researchers have identified a number of factors that are consistently related to happiness. In recent years, positive psychology has emerged as an area of study seeking to identify and promote qualities that lead to greater happiness and fulfillment in our lives. These components include positive affect, optimism, and flow.

Personal application question

Think of an activity you participate in that you find engaging and absorbing. For example, this might be something like playing video games, reading, or a hobby. What are your experiences typically like while engaging in this activity? Do your experiences conform to the notion of flow? If so, how? Do you think these experiences have enriched your life? Why or why not?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Questions & Answers

why they named it psychology
zayn Reply
telll me
ABDUL
the word "psychology" comes from the Greek words "psyche" meaning life and "logos" meaning "explanation".
Soma
Psyche, in Greek mythology was a goddess who comes to represent the human soul's triumph over the misfortunes of life. The term psychology was coined. Psyche, meaning soul or mind and the root "ology" meaning the study of. I hope this helped.
JC
well done
ABDUL
what is chunking
Ritika Reply
Chunking is a process by which individual pieces of an information set are broken down and then grouped together in a meaningful whole.
Azquan
chunking is to information as syllabus is to word
ABDUL
what dose it means, operant and classic conditioning in short words?
Mikiyas Reply
scientific method, critical thinking.
jeddy Reply
the dealings with the thought process and human behavior.
jeddy
for acquiring knowledge by experimentation.
jeddy
study scientific study of mind and behavior.
jeddy
scientific study of the human mind and behavior.
jeddy
hey jeddy I have question s for you
Yussuf
hi what is behavioralism ?
jusem
what is psychology..?
Ania
the science of mental life.
Mikiyas
it focuses on understanding and modifying human behaviour
ABDUL
because emotion can't be measured.
marikrizz Reply
only by the person having the emotion.
Jason
it is subjective feeling
suman
only placed within levels of itself
Teena
and accepted as extended or beginning versions of emotions that are completely free of restrictions
Teena
anyone know, (2+2)/2
start
Emotions can't be measured, but they can be recognized. To be able to recognize certain characteristics that'll give me an idea about an individual's state of mind.
jeddy
any one knows (2+2)/2
start
it is 6
suman
anyone (2+2)/2
start
2
fadil
😂
suman
then more then just recognize but to comprehend the emotions being observed separating your own emotions from the situation currently in.. and rationally gaging the environment.. while then pulling each possible emotional vibe or energy exerted from the human being observed
Teena
How does learning influence behaviour
Tumpa Reply
our choice of study molds us and encourages us to practice what we learn. social structure also changes behavior based on the environment and peers. how we learn can be experimental as not everyone lesrns the same. some are more of a hands-on absorber, whereas others may learn better from listening
A confidence from personal knowledge. Not from having been taugbt. knowledge that you learned what was taught.
jeddy
life is choice, be ready for the best and be prepare for what yet to come in your way(Destiny)
Wayne
what is development
Momna Reply
In what Context are you referring to
Hassan
the progression/degression/growth of something. it is interpreted most commonly in psychology as how something is created or formed. ex: When did you develop an interest in psychology?
when refering to physical, cognitive, and social development, these types of development are determined by many circumstances. such as demographics, biology, and personality/character
it is the apprehensions fluency based by the process of configurations to a design based on product/witness series noticeboards to note the stats on order to retail agreements on stated series order.
Kay
Evolving
jeddy
I'm on my first year of a psychology course, is there anything I should know? anything you wished you knew when you just started psychology ? because I feel like I'm walking into all of this blindly
Lia Reply
hello
GOPAL
I feel exactly the same. Just about to start Psychology and Criminology. feeling slightly nervous 🙈
Sarah
and everything is online
Lia
only for a few weeks I believe. Unless I have read it wrong. I believe that they will try and filter everyone in.
Sarah
it's different for every country
Lia
hi
GOPAL
I start 9/14. Online as well.
LaQuisha
I know very little about Psychology
GOPAL
which area are you specialising in
Elle
yeah, everthing your just know, that psychology is everthing come out with, mind, behavior and emotion. and believe, once you study it, you will understand, wjy people act like that.
EDWARD
Don't be in the class with pre notions.. yh
ABDUL
after a successful job interview,Mr.Abhishek felt relaxed and calm,he stopped sweating and felt hungry,which part of his nervous system was activated
Babaljeet Reply
Hypothalamus
Words
what is the Borysenko model and why is it important?
Sarah
It explains the link between stress and diseases ie.. How long term stress on the mind or body can lead to chronic migraines, ulcers, depression...
Jennifer
I understand there is a link between stress and illness and disease. that when you are in high-stress situations for prolonged periods of time that the brain releases an abundance of stress hormones such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisol, and aldosterone. idk anymore than that.
Sarah
what is the strees anger
Divya
what is difference between illness and disease
Umair
anyone knows (2+2)/2
start
Hy everybody any one who can help me to understand the concept of Structuralism in easy words?
sabiha Reply
If you really considered looking into yourself find the reason of the possibilities or the environment and atmosphere in which you're placed with or without choice in voluntary or involuntary from birth to now, and also consider all existential extensions of yourself including spiritual recognition.
Darling
? and compare them to social,judicial, learned events,experiences, influences and dive into there branches? somehow reflects our mechanic motivations and has an effect on who we are and what we represent. ?😲
Darling
critical evaluation on attitude change and formation those that even exist
COMORDOR
who is considered of a father of psychology
Satyendra Reply
Freud
Lithemba
Immanuel Kant: Critique of Pure Reason.
David
wundt
Namrata
Wundt
Disha
wundt
NishaOfficial
wundt
Naheed
wundt
Jasmine
id say freud but wundt continued his work. let's face it without freud there wouldn't be a psychology practices
Michelle
Freud is considered as the father of Psychoanalysis not psychology
Indefatigable
technically Freud would be the father of psychology because he discovered the id ego and super ego
Bryce
Its kind of a loaded question. There are many early greats in psychology each having their own theories and views. I think it is more of a collective of ideals that make up our current view and understanding of psychology.
Jason
I agree with you Jason. there are Amazing psychologist back then that made the foundation for the field of psychology
Bryce
Wilhelm Winston ryt
Faazi
Wundt
Waris
i agree to you Jason
Welli
is there any name for the fear of dying painfully? is it the same as thanatophobia?
Matthew Reply
hello matthew i am new
Barbara
who is reinhart
Hannah Reply
hello, why are you asking me this?
She
hello, how are you?
Corey
hey Corey, all fine, how are you doing?
She
Hello everyone
Indefatigable
hello
Hannah
Which specialization in psychology interest you? why?
Ailyn
hello, hannah, I'm fine thanks and how are you?
Corey
or she
Corey
hello hannah and corey
Barbara
What makes a personal quality part of someone's personality?
that's a great question 🤔
Love
what do you want to learn in psychogy?
Alyana Reply
I have been observing An incredible amount of people, who are using some kind of stimulant. I'd like to help give advice into their drug dramas. Help Repair their faulty thinking?
Shaun
Learn more about how the unconscious mind Roles behavior
Shaun
Rules *
Shaun
hello
shruti
where from i can learn the rules of unconscious behavior
shruti

Get the best Psychology course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Psychology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 03, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11629/1.5
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Psychology' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask