What Is Positive Psychology

Positive Psychology accentuates meaning and satisfaction, not just always being happy and making everything look positive. Positive Psychology, a branch of psychology, focuses on your behavior and character strengths to build a life of purpose.

what is positive psychology

We all have negative moments. For one, I tend to think on the negative side of things; it’s my character.  

Negative thoughts about situations and people are always in my head. I believe this is because of my upbringing and things that have happened throughout my life.

I have and continue to learn that this type of constant negative thinking is unhealthy and unproductive. Over the years, I have slowly learned to handle my negative thoughts positively.

Thus, positive thinking and this piece about positive psychology.  

What Is Positive Psychology?

In short, as I’ve mentioned earlier, positive psychology is a branch of psychology.

Described in many ways, the accepted definition of the field is:

“Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living” (Peterson, 2008).

Positive Psychology is the scientific approach to studying our behavior, thoughts, feelings, and mainly focusing on our strengths instead of our weaknesses.  

Instead of us constantly repairing ourselves from the “bad,” you build on the good things that happen in your life.  

When practicing positive psychology, we have a better outlook on life, increase our self-esteem, and improve our social relationships.

The Principle of Positive Psychology

Positive psychology focuses on positivity, positive thinking, events, and influences, as you may well know.

When learning and talking with your therapist, most discussions revolve around:

  • Self-esteem
  • Hope
  • Optimism
  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Gratitude
  • Life Satisfaction
  • Compassion

When discussing and studying these topics, they will help you understand how to create your best self.

Benefits of Positive Psychology

Having a more positive mindset, learning to train your mind to think positively, and being optimistic instead of pessimistic can do wonders for your daily life.

The potential benefits are:

  • Change in perspective
  • Self-esteem boost
  • Increased success
  • Improved relationships
  • Higher productivity

Founder of Positive Psychology

Martin Seligman is the founder of positive psychology, and through his research in the 1960s and ’70s, he put together the foundation of “learned helplessness.”

Learned helplessness is backed by decades of research and shows how humans and animals learn to become helpless and feel like they have lost control.

Later Seligman connected this theory with depression, noted people suffering from depression also felt helpless.

While becoming popular with “learned helplessness,” Seligman knew he had more to offer the psychology community, so he turned his attention towards human characteristics and perspectives, which could be learned.

Seligman was frustrated with psychologies focus on the negative, trauma, pain, mental illness, and suffering. So little attention was about a person’s well-being, their strengths, and happiness.

Later, when he was elected president of the American Psychological Association in 1998, he altered the field’s direction.

A new subfield of psychology was introduced to focus on “life-giving” rather than “life-depleting.”

The new field, positive psychology, was published in 2000 by Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the founding father of Flow.

Positive Psychology Take Away

While positive psychology is trendy today, it also has its critics often calling it New Age-y or Pop Psychology.

Positive psychology is indeed a science, a psychology subfield that is based on evidence and scientific methods.

The focus is on happiness and fulfillment and does not mean you are advised to push away your negative emotions.  

People who flourish make room for the good and work through the bad times.

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