What Is Positive Psychology?

Positive psychology focuses on increasing positive emotions, engagement and meaning rather than directly targeting depressive or anxiety symptoms. It is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive.

Positive psychology has three central concerns:

Positive emotions; positive individual traits; and positive institutions. Understanding positive emotions entails the study of contentment with the past, happiness in the present and the hope for the future.

Understanding the positive individual traits consist of the study of the strengths and virtues, such as compassion, resilience, creativity, curiosity, integrity, self-knowledge, moderation self-control, and wisdom. Understanding positive institutions entails the study of the strengths that foster better communities, such as justice, responsibility, civility, parenting, nuturance, work ethic, leadership, teamwork, purpose and tolerance.

Can we increase our own happiness lastingly?

Research seems to indicate that we can, Dr Seligman who wrote “Authentic Happiness” and is known as the father of positive psychology has spent much of his career researching interventions which actually raise happiness and lower depression lastingly.

He proposed that the unwieldy notion of “happiness” could be decomposed into three more scientifically manageable components.

The Pleasant Life: positive emotions

The Engaged Life: engagement in life through using your strengths and talents

The Meaningful Life: finding meaning in life through belonging to and serving something that is bigger than the personal self.

It has bee found that people who pursue all three lives: pleasure, engagement and meaning, have the most life satisfaction, with engagement and meaning being the biggest contributors to fulfilment.

One comment

  1. My recent session that I just wrote about definitely enhanced positive emotions. I think there’s a place for that but I also see the benefit in seeing, naming and exploring all the emotions that come up. Interesting article.

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