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Resiliency: Positivity and Self-Care

This LibGuide provides materials about increasing positivity and self-care.

How to use this LibGuide

This LibGuide features materials related to positivity, positive psychology, life lessons, and self-care. Please see below for instructions on how to navigate this guide:

  • To the left, you will find your main menu, which includes three sections: ProQuest Materials / NC Live Materials / Additional Resources
  • You will find many materials about each topic on their subject page. Each item will have a link that will take you to NC Live or ProQuest.
  • To access the ProQuest Materials, you can either:
    • Type in the e-ISBN in the search bar on your university library's webpage OR
    • Click the title to follow the link directly to the ProQuest Webpage for this item. Use your university single sign on credentials to access the materials.
  • To access Additional Resources:
    • Click on the title/name of the item to load it
  • To Access the NC Live Materials:
    • Go directly to the NC Live website and enter the information on the search bar OR
    • Click the title to follow the link directly to the NC Live Webpage for this item. NC Live will ask you the name of your institution through a drop-down menu. Scroll through the menu until you locate the name of your library. Select the name of your library to to log into NC Live. 

What is Positivity and Self-Care?

According to Oxford Learner's Dictionaries (2024), positivity (noun) is defined as, "the practice of being positive in your attitude and focusing on what is good in a situation." 

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive (The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, 2024). It is the study of what makes life worth living (Test Prep Gurus, 2012). Seen as complementary to already established therapeutic methods, positive psychology is about achieving an optimal level of functioning by building upon one's strengths (University of New Hampshire [UNH], 2024). This field of study is concerned with increasing overall well-being. It is important to note that well-being does not always equal happiness.

There are five pillars of wellness (Test Prep Gurus, 2012): positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment.

Research from positive psychology indicates three main areas that a person's capacity for happiness is set by (UNH, 2024):

  • Genetics (biology and heredity) - 50%
  • Circumstances (sex, ethnicity, income, education, geography, etc.) - 10%
  • Intentional Activity (behavioral choices, thinking patterns, etc.) - 40%
    • intentional activity is where one exerts the most control in increasing happiness and resiliency

The PERMA Model (UNH, 2024) answers the common question, "What is the "good life"?:

  • Positive emotion: what we feel (joy, pleasure, comfort, etc.)
  • Engagement: being fully absorbed in stimulating activities
  • Relationships with others that are positive, nurturing, and rewarding
  • Meaning: serving some purpose that is larger than oneself (this could be work related or volunteer, this is about fulfillment of purpose)
  • Accomplishment: pursuit of achievement and mastery

What can I do to increase happiness in my life? (UNH, 2024)

  • be kind to yourself
  • savor experiences
  • set meaningful goals for yourself that provide structure and purpose
  • seek healthy challenges, stretching your abilities just a bit beyond your comfort zone
  • focus on problem-solving, not just venting

What is Positive Psychology? by Test Prep Gurus (Newport Beach)

"What is Positive Psychology?" A "whiteboard animation" sponsored by Test Prep Gurus ( This video was recently featured at the Western Positive Psychology Association Annual Conference and in the lobby of the Positive Psychology department at Penn State!

Test Prep Gurus (Newport Beach). (2012, October 10). What is positive psychology? [Video]. YouTube.

The Power of Positivity | Guy Katz | TEDxZurich by TEDx Talks

What do a Holocaust survivor, a famous politician, and the most successful salespeople in the world have in common? We may think people are “born” as great communicators, yet positivity is not magical; it is science! We can simply become more constructive in our interactions, and it’s worth it since positiveness promotes success in health, work, and relationships.

TEDx Talks. (2023, April 28). The power of positivity | guy katz | tedxzurich [Video]. YouTube.

Just as every individual is different, the definition of self-care is too. There are several definitions of self-care. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), self care is defined as, "the abilities of individuals, families, and communities to promote health prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health worker." (2024).  

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) expands this definition to include caring for mental health. Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being (NIMH, 2024). According to NIMH (2024), self-care is taking the time to do things that will help you live well and improve both your mental and physical health.

While the concept of self-care seems simple, its execution can be difficult. Self-care is more than watching your favorite TV-show or playing video games, it involves taking action(s) to increase your physical, emotional, and social health. 

NIMH (2024) provides a few self-care tips:

  • get regular exercise
  • eat healthy, regular meals
  • stay hydrated
  • make sleep a priority
  • try a relaxing activity (i.e. wellness apps, meditation, breathing exercises, reading, listening to music, spending time in nature, etc.)
  • set goals and priorities
  • practice gratitude
  • focus on positivity
  •  stay connected with friends/family members

Self-Care by Columbia Psychiatry

Columbia University and The New York Public Library have launched a public health initiative—in partnership with the National Black Leadership Commission on Health (Black Health)—to bring free education and resources to New York City residents who face lack of access and cultural barriers to behavioral health care.

The Community Mental Health Project, supported by the Leon Levy Foundation, aims to reduce the distress and trauma in the city’s racially and ethnically diverse communities that have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative consist of series of animated videos focusing on mental health wellness and self-care.

The topics address mental health concerns identified in discussions with community members, ranging from mental illness and addiction to stigma in seeking treatment and care. Note: Resources based on input from teens, young adults, and seniors in neighborhoods significantly impacted by health disparities and the pandemic.

Columbia Psychiatry. (2022, February 14). Self-care [Video]. YouTube.

Self Care: What It Really Is | Susannah Winters | TEDxHiltonHeadWomen by TEDx Talks

Self Care breaks the myth that self care is a wine party, Netflix binge, or pedicure social. Self care is what's needed for your well-being and should always leave you with more energy and feelings of revitalization. Often, the activities that are described as self-care leave you more depleted and with less energy.

This talk will break the myth and discuss the 4 components of self care that will support your overall wellness:

 -nourishing foods,

-stillness & movement,

-time in nature, and

-self expression 

TEDx Talks. (2019, January 4). Self care: What it really is | susannah winters | tedxhiltonheadwomen [Video]. YouTube.

Oxford Learner's Dictionaries. (2024). Positivity.

University of New Hampshire. (2024). Positive psychology strategies for increased happiness.

The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. (2024). Home. Positive Psychology Center.

National Institute for Mental Health. (2024). Caring for your mental health.,can%20have%20a%20big%20impact.

Test Prep Gurus (Newport Beach). (2012, October 10). What is positive psychology? [Video]. YouTube.

World Health Organization. (2024). Self-care for health and well-being.

Looking for more information on your campus?

Use the keywords below:

  • self-care
  • self-care AND college students
  • what is self-care
  • positivity
  • positive psychology