Positive psychology is a branch of psychology focused on the character strengths and behaviour that allow individuals to build a life of meaning and purpose—to move beyond surviving to flourishing. Theorists and researchers in the field have sought to identify the elements of a good life. They have also proposed and tested practices for improving life satisfaction and well-being.
The Basics of Positive Psychology
Positive psychology emphasizes meaning and deep satisfaction, not just on fleeting happiness.Martin Seligman, often regarded as the father of positive psychology, has described multiple visions of what it means to live happily, including the Pleasant Life , the Good Life , and the Meaningful Life.
Positive psychologists have explored a range of experiences and behaviours involved in different versions of positive living, including specific positive emotions, “flow” states, and sense of meaning or purpose.
While there is plenty of overlap, positive psychology has been described as different from other areas of psychology due to its primary interest in identifying and building mental assests , as opposed to addressing weaknesses and problems.
TECHNIQUES USED IN POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY
Positive psychotherapy is the application of positive psychology principles in a professional therapeutic setting. It is based on the concept that happiness may be broken down into three more manageable components:
- Positive emotion
The exercises used in positive psychotherapy are designed to enhance one or more of these components in a person’s life.
Some of the techniques used in this form of therapy involve examining the activities of the person in therapy. In therapy, the positive implications of each activity are explored.Therapists may, with the consent of the person receiving therapy, beep the individual to remind them to record their experiences.
These records are expanded upon when a person adds daily entries to describe the details of the past day. They are then evaluated with long-term appraisals. These methods are often referred to as short-term sampling.
People in therapy are also often encouraged to keep a gratitude journal. This record is a reminder of the positive events and accomplishments of each day. The practice may help offset rumination on things that did not go according to plan.
How to apply positive psychology?
Identifying one’s character strengths (such as courage, humanity, or justice) is considered an important step on the road to the good and meaningful life envisioned by positive psychologists. There are also positive psychology practices one can try at home to promote well-being.
For instance, gratitude exercises have been studied by psychologists as a way to increase happiness over time. Just what the name sounds like, these involve such simple actions as writing down each day three things for which one is grateful.
Although the focus of positive psychology is on happiness and fulfillment, it is important to understand that this does not mean people are advised to push away their negative emotions altogether. People who are flourishing make room in their lives for such inevitable states of mind.
Benefits of positive psychology
Practices associated with positive psychology such as gratitude interventions can boost social and emotional well-being.
Positive psychology has also led to explorations of how developing certain character strengths, positive emotions like awe, and other qualities, such as a sense of meaning and purpose in life, might contribute to positive life outcomes.
Measures of meaning in life have been found to relate to other positive life outcomes. For example, a study shows that the older adults who consider their lives worthwhile tend to have better physical and mental health.
How did Positive Psychology evolve?
Many psychologists admit that we have little knowledge of what makes life worth living or of how normal people flourish under usual, rather than extreme, conditions. In fact, we often have little more to say about the good life than self-help gurus. But shouldn’t we know better?
The Western world has long overgrown the rationale for an exclusively disease model of psychology. Perhaps now is the time to readdress the balance by using psychology resources to learn about normal and flourishing lives, rather than lives that are in need of help.
Perhaps now is the time to gather knowledge about strengths and talents, high achievement (in every sense of this word), the best ways and means of self-improvement, fulfilling work and relationships, and a great art of ordinary living carried out in every corner of the planet. This is the rationale behind the creation of positive psychology.