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Monday, August 27, 2012

Using positive psychology to cope with chronic illness

Is it possible to use positivity as a drug?

When someone has a more positive outlook on life, their brain is more engaged, motivated and productive – ultimately improving their health.

Shawn Achor, a Harvard researcher and author of The Happiness Advantage, spoke with Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of, about the science behind positive psychology, a method to help people cope with chronic illnesses.

“It’s the joy we feel striving towards our potential,” Achor said of his method.  “The reason we love this definition is because part of what it does is takes away from the momentary pleasures we can feel.  You can feel ups and downs in your life based on work or based upon a chronic illness, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re happy.”

Achor is the head psychologist at Everday Matters, a program developed by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the biotechnology company Genzyme, which chronicles the journeys of five people living with MS as they overcome their health challenges through positive psychology.
“They want to make positive psychology – the tools we’ve been learning about, how we can raise people’s levels of happiness – we want to find ways to make them more practical,” Achor said.

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