Positive Emotions Good for Health in Old Age
Synopsis: Data shows positive emotions may be a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and illness. The benefits of these healthy lifestyle choices may become more important in older adults as their bodies become more susceptible to disease. An optimistic outlook has also been shown to combat stress, a known risk factor for many diseases. Despite the significant loss of physical function throughout the body, a person's emotional capacity remains consistent with age.
- Positive Emotions
- Positive emotions are pleasant or desirable situational responses, ranging from interest and contentment to love and joy, but are distinct from pleasurable sensation and undifferentiated positive affect. These emotions are markers of people's overall well-being or happiness and enhance future growth and success. Some typical positive emotion examples include love, happiness, contentment, serenity, awe, joy, satisfaction, interest, and amusement.
The notion that feeling good may be good for your health is not new, but is it true? A new article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reviews the existing research on how positive emotions can influence health outcomes in later adulthood.
Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, publishes concise reviews on the latest advances in theory and research spanning all of scientific psychology and its applications.
"We all age. It is how we age, however, that determines the quality of our lives," said Anthony Ong of Cornell University, author of the review article.
The data he reviews suggest that positive emotions may be a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and illness. There are several pathways through which a positive attitude can protect against poor health later in life. For example, happier people might take a proactive approach to age by regularly exercising and budgeting time for a good night's sleep.
Alternately, these people may avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and risky sex.
The benefits of these healthy lifestyle choices may become more important in older adults as their bodies become more susceptible to disease. An optimistic outlook has also been shown to combat stress, a known risk factor for many diseases.
Studies have found that people with stronger positive emotions have lower chemicals associated with stress-related inflammation. Also, by adopting a positive attitude, people may even be able to undo some of the physical damage caused by stress.
Ong, a developmental psychologist, became interested in studying positive emotion during graduate school when he learned about what researchers call the paradox of aging. Despite the notable loss of physical function throughout the body, a person's emotional capacity seemed to stay consistent with age.
Ong speculates that if positive emotions are indeed good for our health, then "one direct, measurable consequence of this should be the extended years of quality living."
This quality-reviewed article relating to our Psychological Disorders section was selected for publishing by the editors of Disabled World due to its likely interest to our disability community readers. Though the content may have been edited for style, clarity, or length, the article "Positive Emotions Good for Health in Old Age" was originally written by Association for Psychological Science, and published by Disabled-World.com on 2011-01-20 (Updated: 2022-06-26). Should you require further information or clarification, Association for Psychological Science can be contacted at psychologicalscience.org. Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith.
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Cite This Page (APA): Association for Psychological Science. (2011, January 20). Positive Emotions Good for Health in Old Age. Disabled World. Retrieved September 21, 2023 from www.disabled-world.com/disability/types/psychological/positive-emotions.php
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