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A positive attitude can improve your health

A positive attitude can have major health benefits, say researchers in the field of positive psychology.

Angela Buttimer, MS, NCC, RYT, LPC, a licensed psychotherapist at Thomas F. Chapman Family Cancer Wellness at Piedmont, teaches a concept from positive psychology called "eudaimonia" in her classes.

"Cultivating eudaimonia — a sense of contentment and well-being — can cause changes in our neurophysiology,” says Buttimer. “You can increase eudaimonia by fostering your curiosity, hope, joy and purpose.”

These neurophysiological changes result in:

How to increase positivity in your life

You can develop these areas by:

  • Connecting to your religious or spiritual beliefs.
  • Finding little things that bring you joy, such as taking a walk outside, reading a good book or sipping a cup of tea while watching the birds play outside your window.
  • Joining a support group.
  • Learning a new hobby or skill.
  • Looking at what brings you meaning and purpose. This could mean volunteering for a cause near to your heart or spending more time with family and fewer hours at the office.
  • Reading about a topic that interests you.
  • Recognizing and cultivating your strengths.
  • Spending time with positive, uplifting people.

Insincere happiness can hurt your health

In this case, don’t fake it ‘til you make it. Pretending everything is okay when it isn’t could actually backfire.

"Insincere happiness can actually have a negative impact on your health. It's important to honor your feelings. Repression, suppression and avoidance of negative emotions are connected to disease," she says.

Positivity, or eudaimonia, can coexist with what we call "negative emotions."

"You can still have eudaimonia even when you're feeling tired, depressed or anxious," she explains. "If you invest in cultivating positivity, it will be there to support you even during negative emotions."

Note: If you experience persistent feelings of anxiety or depression, seek a professional counselor or social worker for support.

Check out more ways to boost your mental well-being.

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