Positive Affect: What Is It and How Can It Benefit You?

· April 1, 2017

Positive affect, the protagonist of this article, is a mood made up of positive emotions. These emotions bring multiple benefits to those who experience them. So much so, that they’ve been shown to improve health and body image and strengthen relationships.

With that said, the question is, how can we promote positive affect in our lives? This can be done through the development of personal strengths, resilience, and humor. By reinforcing these aspects, you can enjoy these emotions more fully, as well as the benefits of their proper management. We’ll discuss this topic further in this article.

“When you wake up in the morning, think about the precious privilege of being alive, breathing, thinking, enjoying, and loving.”

-Marco Aurelio-

What is positive affect?

Affect is the emotional state that you experience in a particular moment. This can be either positive or negative. In general, negative affect is used to discuss negative emotions, while positive affect denotes positive emotions.

happy card

Negative affect has received the most attention in the field of psychology, because these negative emotions are the ones that are most often encountered in clinical practice. Clinicians mainly treat people who have illnesses or complaints, and focus little on people who don’t report any kind of pain.

On the other hand, positive affect has recently been studied a bit more, especially in the field of positive psychology.* The main components of positive affect are happiness, good mood, optimism, enthusiasm, and love, among others. 


*Positive psychology is a field that emphasizes the importance of positive affect on psychological processes. 

What are the benefits of positive affect?

As you might expect, experiencing a set of positive emotions can have a positive influence on people. First of all, it promotes psychological well-being. The good mental health that results has a positive influence on physical health.

On top of these health benefits, it also promotes more satisfying social relationships. Experiencing positive affect facilitates social communication, such as initiating a conversation or making eye contact.

girls laughing

It also favors trust in and cooperation with others, as well as generosity towards yourself and others. This will lead you to communicate more effectively and be more empathetic. This is how bonds and deeper, more stable relationships are created.

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

-Helen Keller

How can you promote positive affect in your life?

Having a positive affect and being happy sounds really appealing. Even if we hadn’t talked about the benefits it provides, who wouldn’t want to be happy? It’s important to remember that there will always be situations that will make you feel bad, which is completely normal. What isn’t normal, however, is dwelling on them and burying your positive affect.

So, you can promote the presence of these positive emotions by developing your positive strengths, resilience, and humor.

Positive strengths are your preexisting capacity to behave, think, or feel a certain way. They stimulate the mind and allow for optimal functioning, development, and performance. So being aware of your positive features and developing the ones that you consider important will increase your positive affect.

Another way to do this is through resilience. This is the ability to face your problems in a positive way so that you can continue on with your life. It involves overcoming difficult life conditions in a way that reinforces your strengths. In other words, it promotes a feeling of personal development.

flower growing in hands

Lastly, you can promote positive affect through humor. When we laugh, we release hormones involved in the regulation of stress, like adrenaline and cortisol. With humor, thought becomes more flexible, which improves your ability to regulate your emotions.

A positive mood can also help you reinterpret difficult situations, establish and reinforce social supports, tolerate pain, and stimulate your immune system.

As we’ve seen, positive affect plays a very important role in one’s personal development, overall health, and the quality of one’s interpersonal relationships. And the best part is you can take measures to promote it. So, go ahead!

Repressing Emotions Is a Risk Factor for Liver Disease