What is Positive Affect?

“Positive affect” refers to one’s propensity to experience positive emotions and interact with others and with life’s challenges in a positive way. Conversely, “negative affect” involves experiencing the world in a more negative way, feeling negative emotions and more negativity in relationships and surroundings. These two states are independent of one another, though related; someone can be high in positive and negative affect, high in just one, or low in both. Both states affect our lives in many ways, particularly when it comes to stress and how we handle it.

You can experience greater resilience toward stress simply by cultivating positive affect or taking steps to get into a better mood more often.

How to Increase Your Positive Affect?

Positive affect can be developed and cultivated. While affectivity is somewhat inborn, meaning that some people are simply born with a greater propensity for being in a good mood as part of their personality, there are many things you can do to get into the habit if experiencing positive affect more often in your life, and making your good moods even better.

Maintain a Gratitude Journal

Research shows that writing about what you are grateful for in your life can bring about greater levels of positive affect, and this benefit lasts for quite a while

Indulge in Life’s Pleasures

If you plan pleasurable experiences into your life, you can be constantly increasing your experience of positive affect and the benefits that come with it. Just remember to add new pleasures on a regular basis so you don’t become bored.

Engage in Hobbies

Many of us don’t have as much time for hobbies as we’d like, but it’s important to make time. This can not only increase your positive affect, it can take your mind off of what may be stressing you, and leave you with a sense of accomplishment.

Practice Loving-Kindness Meditation

Meditation, in general, is great for stress management, but the loving-kindness meditation is a particularly sweet treat, especially in that it can increase your levels of positive affect and help you feel less stressed.

Exercise—And Make It Fun!

Physical activity is a powerful stress reliever as well, and there are so many forms of exercise you can engage in, you can find several activities that are fun as well. Dancing, yoga, cycling, walking with a friend? Think about what might be fun for you, and do it!

Remember and Savor Positive Experiences

Research confirms what you probably instinctively know already: that actively savoring positive experiences can prolong the happiness you experience from them! And this can increase positive affect as well, leading to greater enjoyment of life and more resilience toward stress.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D

Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., is Professor and Vice Chair of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside. Originally from Russia, she received her A.B., summa cum laude, from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in Social/Personality Psychology from Stanford University. Lyubomirsky currently teaches courses in social psychology and positive psychology and serves as the Department of Psychology’s Vice Chair. Her teaching and mentoring of students have been recognized with the Faculty of the Year Award (twice) and the Faculty Mentor of the Year Award.


The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success?

Numerous studies show that happy individuals are successful across multiple life domains, including marriage, friendship, income, work performance, and health. In this Research paper, Sonja Lyubomirsky,  Laura King and Ed Diener suggest a conceptual model to
account for these findings, arguing that the happiness–success link exists not only because success makes people happy, but also because positive affect engenders success.

What makes people happy?

In her work, Sonja Lyubomirsky has focused on developing a science of human happiness. To this end, her research addresses three critical questions:

1) What makes people happy?
2) Is happiness a good thing?
3) How can we make people happier still?

Conceptual Model

This model displays our general conceptual model, which proposes that successful outcomes are caused by happiness and do not merely correlate with it or follow from it.

Ed Diener, Ph.D

is an American psychologist, professor, and author. Diener is a professor of psychology at the University of Utah and the University of Virginia, and Joseph R. Smiley Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois, as well as a senior scientist for the Gallup Organization. He is noted for his research over the past thirty year.

 Dr. Diener is past president of three scientific societies: the International Society for Quality of Life Studies, the International Positive Psychology Association, and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. He is a fellow of five professional societies, including the Association for Psychological Science, American Psychological Association, and International Society for Quality of Life Studies, Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and Experimental Psychology.


The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success?

Dr. Pert is an internationally recognized pharmacologist who has published over 250 scientific articles on peptides and their receptors and the role of these neuropeptides in the immune system. She has an international reputation in the field of neuropeptide and receptor pharmacology, and chemical neuroanatomy. She has lectured worldwide on these and other subjects, including her theories on emotions and mind-body communication. Dr. Pert holds a number of patents for modified peptides in the treatment of psoriasis, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, stroke, and head trauma. One of these, Peptide T, is currently in a Phase II trial in San Francisco for the treatment of AIDS and neuroAIDS.

Her best-selling book, Molecules of Emotion is noteworthy both as an insider’s history of the changing scientific paradigm and as one woman’s journey of growth and understanding.

Important works

Molecules of Emotion: Why You Feel the Way You Feel

In MOLECULES OF EMOTION, neuroscientist Candace Pert provides startling and decisive answers to these long-debated questions, establishing the biomolecular basis for our emotions and explaining these new scientific developments in a clear and accessible way. Her pioneering research on how the chemicals inside us form a dynamic information network, linking mind and body, is not only provocative, it is revolutionary. In her groundbreaking book, Candace Pert offers a new scientific understanding of the power of our minds and our feelings to affect our health and well-being.

What the Bleep Do We Know

What the Bleep Do We Know is a Groundbreaking drama-documentary that explores the natural laws of quantum physics and their interconnected relationship to human consciousness in how we perceive and experience our lives. Scientifically, the movie is a dramatic shift in how we understand the unseen sub-atomic world and how thoughts become things.

In the film, during a discussion of the influence of experience on perception, Candace Pert notes a story, which she says she believes is true, of Native Americans being unable to see Columbus’s ships because they were outside their experience. 

Other Helpful Articles And Resources

EEG Correlates of Ten Positive Emotions

In the present study, we explored the EEG correlates of ten different positive emotions (joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love). A group of 20 participants were invited to watch 30 short film clips with their EEGs simultaneously recorded.

The Neurophysiology of Happiness

Neuroplasticity, the fundamental feature of the brain where connections between neural cells change as a part habit formation, enables us to learn to be happier simply by practising happiness.