Being optimistic protects the body

Just as we can ruin our health by overhauling our problems, we can strengthen it by looking for happy emotions. But to generate its benefits, positive thinking requires a comprehensive work on oneself.

Sylvain Michelet

Who has never experienced this experience? You feel helpless, and even a bit sick, when good news, a happy event, suddenly awakens all your energy. You are suddenly in top form, and you run to the other end of the city to find friends or shoot down in one hour the work of a day. But where did you get this renewal of dynamism? Just having pleasant emotions? Could it be, then, that the pleasure, the joy, the happiness, the positive thoughts, are a factor of physical health?

The idea is not new. The psychologist and pharmacist Émile Coué, at the beginning of the 20th century, had even deduced a therapeutic method. He advised his clients to repeat twenty times a day aloud the optimistic message "every day, from every point of view, I'm getting better and better". Years later, journalist and American university professor Norman Cousins ​​re-launched the idea by recounting, in 1979, how he was treated for a deadly disease with a cure based on comic films and vitamin C. But we had to wait a little longer for science to be interested in the phenomenon. For obvious reasons: "Medicine, psychiatry and psychology have amply demonstrated how negative emotions and thoughts make us tense, weary and, in the long run, weaken us, but at that time they were essentially concerned only with Their interest in welfare-generating emotions is much more recent, "explains Thierry Janssen, a Brussels psychotherapist who takes stock of this interest in his latest book, Le Défi Positive.

The psychic qualities of good health

Today, many therapies expressly appeal to the moral resources and dynamism of patients. Positive psychology properly so-called strives to identify the psychic qualities that condition good health, and to promote the tools to develop them. From the ability to meet one's material, emotional and spiritual needs to the ability to overcome hardships, to the feeling of being caught in a positive "flow" giving meaning to one's existence, these qualities have in common to address at all levels of being, and to insist on the dimension of meaning, even of ethics. In the same way that we can rot our lives to overhaul the problems, we can brighten it by looking for the bright side.

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