Positive Health

Building strengths to improve well-being and protect against illness

The field of medicine has long focused on the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure of disease. But health is more than the mere absence of disease. The emerging concept of Positive Health takes an innovative approach to health and well-being that focuses on promoting people’s positive health assets—strengths that can contribute to a healthier, longer life. RWJF is funding research to help identify these assets, which might include biological factors, such as high heart rate variability; subjective factors, such as optimism; and functional factors, such as a stable marriage. If identified and validated, the next step would be to design interventions that can help strengthen these health assets so everyone can increase their chances of living a healthier, longer life.

According to Martin Seligman, PhD, project director and director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, Positive Health encompasses the understanding that "people desire well-being in its own right and they desire it above and beyond the relief of their suffering." Seligman and a team of researchers are working to identify potential health assets and see if they may reveal a variety of potent, low-cost approaches to enhance well-being and help protect against physical and mental illness.

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University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences

Martin E. P. Seligman, PhD
Project Director

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Positive Health approaches well-being with a focus on promoting positive health assets. #healthinnovation

REad what People are saying about positive health...

...On NBCNews.com: "Positive Outlook Tied to Healthier Cholesterol"

...On CBSNews.com: "Happy Childhood Homes may Lead to Healthier Heart as Adult"

...In Medscape Today News: "Optimism Linked to Higher Antioxidant Levels"

...In The New York Times: "Really? Optimism Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease"

...On TIME's Healthland Blog: "A Happy, Optimistic Outlook May Protect Your Heart"

...In The Huffington Post: "Optimism Could Be The Secret To A Healthy Heart, Study Suggests"

...In The Atlantic: "What We Know Now About How to Be Happy"

...In Men's Health: "The Surprising New Secret to Heart Health"

...In WebMD Health News: "Happiness and Optimism Could Help Reduce Heart Attack Risk"