The Positive Psychology of Survival

My friend Ed Diener, the Jedi Master of happiness research, presented a wonderful keynote talk on “The Remarkable Progress of National Accounts of Subjective Well-Being” at the recent one-day “Happiness and Well-Being” conference.  He documented the social and health benefits of positive well-being, and celebrated the use of at least simple well-being measures by 41 nations as of 2013.

 In displaying the health accompaniments of positive emotions, Ed introduced me to a 2011 PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) study by Andrew Steptoe and Jane Wardle that I’d somehow missed.  Steptoe and Wardle followed 3,853 fifty-two to seventy-nine year olds in England for 60 months.  This figure displays the number surviving, among those with high, medium, and low positive affect—which was assessed by averaging four mood reports across a single day at the study’s beginning.  Those with a “blue” mood that day were twice as likely as the good mood folks to die in the ensuing five years!{cke_protected_1}{cke_protected_2}