Cheerfulness is a powerful emotion, which is similar to gratitude but more forward looking. It is a can-do attitude of making the most of what occurs in our life. Research shows that cheerfulness materially changes brain chemistry helping enhance mental and physical health. The positive effects of cheerfulness on the quality of our own life and our relationships cannot be overstated.
Being cheerful does not entail refusal to acknowledge the difficulties that arise in life. There is an important place for painful emotions. Thus, Pollyanna cheerfulness can be false and annoying in its naïveté. However, having a cheerful attitude involves a reasonable willingness to take on life’s challenges instead of sitting back and complaining.
No matter what struggles we face, we can still develop a cheerful attitude. This does not mean that we don’t feel the pain or are not aware of the challenges that exist. It means dealing with life’s difficulties with the positive expectation that we can overcome them, or at least that we will give it our best shot.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD