Performing positive activities can make people happy leading to a joyful, contented life, which in turn drives experiences of kindness, gratitude, and optimism. Evidence suggests adopting an optimistic point of view can help people feel better about daily life, can improve health, and reinforce positive thoughts and emotions.1 Happiness can be difficult to obtain in pursuit but can be achieved through some degree of  motivation, practice, and effort. Practices like expressing gratitude, giving, and mindfulness can help individuals move to a happier state of being.2

Shifting to the positive could mean you’ll be healthier and have better life satisfaction.3 Evidence suggests that optimists are better at controlling levels of cortisol–also known as the stress hormone–which was lower in people who had a more positive outlook.4 In another study of 11,000 men and women, those who reported being happy, lived longer, and had fewer heart attacks and strokes.5

As a result of having a positive outlook, optimistic people also engage in more healthier behaviors and healthier approaches to challenges, which leads to a better quality of life.6 They are also more likely to be offered jobs and be more resilient.7 8

There is a lot that can be done to shape happiness by shifting to the positive. The tenets of good habits include:

  • Self-compassion; having kindness towards yourself or accepting all of who you are, as you would a good friend or a loved one.9
  • Gratitude; an emotional sentiment of thankfulness, appreciation, and gratefulness. This feeling helps you connect to something larger than yourself.10
  • Letting go of negativity; being open to the possibilities of life and leading with a positive thought, not a negative one.11
  • Spreading loving kindness; a deep appreciation of self-compassion, that extends out to all beings, including family, friends, and colleagues.12

Being positive is part of a larger Healthy Monday curriculum to lower stress, which includes breathing, physical activity, and mindfulness. Incorporating healthy habits at the start of the week is an opportunity to make a fresh start.


For more tips and resources to promote DeStress Monday, visit our Resources page.

For more information about how a Monday cue can support behavior change, visit The Monday Campaigns Research page.

[1] Lyubomirsky, S., Layous, K. 2013. How Do Simple Positive Activities Increase Well-Being? Current Directions in Psychological Science. 22(1) 57–62. http://sonjalyubomirsky.com/files/2012/09/Lyubomirsky-Layous-20132.pdf

[2] Joachim I. Krueger Ph.D., March 4, 2015, Happy Pie – Intend to become happier and do something about it, Psychology Today,


[3] The Power of Positive Thinking. Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_aging/healthy_mind/the-power-of-positive-thinking

[4] Jobin, J., Wrosch, C., & Scheier, M. F. (2014). Associations between dispositional optimism and diurnal cortisol in a community sample: When stress is perceived as higher than normal. Health Psychology, 33(4), 382–391. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2013-16579-001

[5] Ronald D. Siegel, Psy.D., 2016, Positive Psychology, Harnessing the Power of Happiness, Mindfulness, and Inner Strength, Harvard Medical School Special Health Report, Chapter: Happiness: What is it? Page 10

[6] Feldscher, K. 2016. Health & Medicine: How the power of positive thinking works. The Harvard Gazette. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2016/12/optistic-women-live-longer-are-healthier/

[7] Neighmond, P. 2019. Optimists For The Win: Finding The Bright Side Might Help You Live Longer. NPR. September 1. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/09/01/755185560/optimists-for-the-win-finding-the-bright-side-might-help-you-live-longer

[8] Optimists Get Jobs More Easily — and Get Promoted More, Researchers Find. 2010. MIT Sloan Management Review. October 20. https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/optimists-get-jobs-more-easily-and-get-promoted-more-researchers-find/

[9] Serena Chen. 2018. Why Curiosity Matters, Managing Yourself, Give Yourself a Break: The Power of Self-Compassion. Harvard Business Review.


[10] In Praise of Gratitude. 2011. Harvard Health Publishing.


[11] Lesley Alderman. 2017. The Year of Conquering Negative Thinking. The New York Times. January 3. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/03/well/mind/the-year-of-conquering-negative-thinking.html

[12] Shoba Sreenivasan, Ph.D., and Linda E. Weinberger, Ph.D., 2017, Why Random Acts of Kindness Matter to Your Wellbeing – Being kind can have an impact on your psychological and physical health, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-nourishment/201711/why-random-acts-kindness-matter-your-wellbeing