The concept of Positive Health comes from the research and science of positive psychology.
Positive psychology scientifically established that there is more to mental and emotional health than the mere absence of psychopathology. There is a wide realm of thriving and flourishing, highlighted by positive emotion, meaning and purpose, that can be taught to individuals, creating greater health and well being when practiced.
Viewed graphically, the goal of modern healthcare is the absence or prevention of illness. The goal of positive health is more than this: It is a state of optimal health.
Optimal health refers to positive health assets that fortify the individual against stresses and threats, resulting in longer life, decreased morbidity, more rapid recovery when illness does strike, and a happy flourishing life.
Health assets fall into three basic categories: Subjective, Biologic, and Functional.
Subjective health assets are defined by the positive side of key psychological states or traits, such as a sense of positive physical wellbeing, a sense of confidence about one’s body, and optimism over one’s future health. Examples include optimism, life satisfaction, hope, engagement, and meaning and purpose.
Biological health assets are defined by healthy and efficient anatomic structure and physiologic function in the body, which fosters the ability to adapt to both physical and emotional environmental challenges and stressors, resulting in longevity and retarding of the aging process. Examples include rapid wound healing, low serum interleukin-6, high heart rate variability (high vagal tone).
Functional health assets provide for optimal physical and role function. Rather than being the absolute presence or absence of physical abilities the true health asset is the extent to which one can effectively adapt physical skills to meet the demands of one’s chosen lifestyle. Examples include meaningful work, close friends, a successful marriage, and participation in a social community.