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Positive Psychology

Positive Psychology: this short article explains positive psychology in a practical way. Next to what it is (definition and origin), this article also highlights the main elements and concepts, aplications, methods and theories, and finally tips and tricks. Enjoy reading!

Positive Psychology: this short article explains positive psychology in a practical way. Next to what it is (definition and origin), this article also highlights the main elements and concepts, aplications, methods and theories, and finally tips and tricks. Enjoy reading!

What is Positive Psychology?

Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life worth living. The study emphasizes both individual and social well-being. Positive psychology also focuses on improving people’s quality of life by highlighting positive subjective experiences, as well as positive individual traits and positive attitudes.

It is a growing field that seeks common ground for improving well-being.

An example of positive psychology is examining factors that contribute to happiness and well-being, such as people’s social bonds, exercise, and spirituality.

Definition and origin

Positive psychology is defined by Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as “the scientific study of positive human functioning and flourishing on multiple levels that include the biological, personal, rational, institutional, cultural, and global dimensions of life.”

This type of psychology emerged as a separate domain within psychology in 1998, when Martin Seligman chose it as the theme for his term as president of the American Psychological Association. Seligman is best known for his theories, such as the Learned Helplessness Theory and the PERMA Model.

Positive psychology was a response to the focus of mental illness and negative thinking and shifted the focus to happiness, well-being and positivity. It builds on the foundations laid by the humanistic psychology movement led by thinkers such as Abraham Maslow, Rollo May, James Martin and the American psychologist Carl Rogers.

Main elements and concepts

Positive psychology revolves around the concept of eudaimonia, which means ‘the good life’. It reflects on the factors that contribute most to a well-lived and fulfilled life. It emphasizes subjective well-being and happiness and encourages the use of character strengths to seek and find happiness.

It complements traditional fields of psychology by promoting self-image and self-esteem. It recognizes the value of promoting positive attitudes, optimism and acceptance of the past, present and future.

Applications

Positive psychology has several valuable applications in promoting well-being and happiness. It examines factors such as social bonds, exercise, meditation and spirituality as factors contributing to happiness and well-being.

Psychologists who adhere to positive psychology strive to use interventions that promote positive attitudes and minimize negative thoughts. The field also focuses on analyzing families, schools, workplaces, and education as a whole, with the goal of improving satisfaction, productivity, and other positive psychological outcomes.

The science of this type of psychology has also contributed to the understanding of concepts such as quality of life, well-being, meaningful living and spirituality. Quality of life not only includes physical and mental well-being, but also includes socio-economic factors. The pursuit of well-being and a meaningful life is considered a critical part of positive psychology.

Methods and theories

There are various methods, techniques and theories based on the principles of positive psychology. Some of these are briefly explained below.

PERMA Model

The PERMA Model was developed by the coiner of the term positive psychology, Martin Seligman. The model identifies five elements that are crucial for experiencing well-being and leading a happy existence. PERMA stands for:

  • Positive emotions
  • Commitment
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Accomplishments

The model emphasizes that these elements work together to promote a life well lived.

Flow Theory

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow Theory states that people experience the greatest satisfaction when they engage in activities that provide an optimal balance between challenge and skill. Flow occurs when a person becomes completely absorbed in an activity and reaches a state of deeper involvement and focus.

Happiness Model by Tal Ben-Shahar

This Happiness model mainly focuses on understanding and promoting happiness. It emphasizes the importance of positive emotions, meaningful relationships, and using strengths to pursue happiness. The model is fully in line with the core principles of positive psychology.

Snyder’s Hope Theory

The Snyder’s Hope Theory of hope focuses on the motivation and resilience of people that come from having hopeful thoughts and goals in life. Positive psychology recognizes the importance of hope and optimism as contributing factors to well-being and resilience.

Subjective Happiness Scale

The Subjective Happiness Scale is a measuring instrument for assessing subjective happiness. It was developed to measure a person’s subjective experiences and is related to positive emotions and life satisfaction. These are important aspects of positive psychology.

Self Determination Theory

The Self Determination Theory focuses on the intrinsic motivation and promotion of autonomy in people. The theory aligns closely with the principles of positive psychology, especially because of its emphasis on the importance of positive feelings and achieving well-being.

Theory of Learned Helplessness

This theory by Martin Seligman focuses on people who believe they have no control over their own lives and are therefore powerless to bring about change. Positive psychology can help identify ways to cultivate and use positive emotions and resources for personal happiness and well-being.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a state of awareness that is focused on this moment, here and now, without judgment. It is closely associated with positive psychology as it emphasizes promoting positive motivation and personal well-being.

Vroom’s Expectancy Theory

Vroom’s Expectancy Theory focuses on the relationship between effort, performance and motivation. Positive psychology can be linked to this theory because of its emphasis on promoting positive motivation and engagement in activities that have meaning.

Daniel Pink Motivation Theory

Daniel Pink’s Motivation Theory emphasizes that intrinsic motivation, autonomy, and mastery are important factors for engagement and motivation at work. It is fully in line with the principles of positive psychology.

Replacing the global college system with Vishen Lakhiana   

Tips and tricks

The articles linked to the positive psychology tag are all about theories, models and techniques related to the fundamentals of positive psychology as developed by Martin Seligman. Are you still missing topics? Let us know in the comments under an article or fill in the contact form.

Mindfulness explained

September 9th, 2023

Mindfulness: this article describes the concept of Mindfulness in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this personal happiness philosophy and way of personal development. Enjoy reading! Background of Mindfulness Vipassana is a Buddhist attention training…

Tal Ben-Shahar’s Happiness Model

August 21st, 2023

Tal Ben-Shahar’s happiness model: this article explains Tal Ben-Shahar’s happiness model or hamburger model, in a practical way. After reading, you’ll understand the basics of this powerful psychology tool. What is Tal Ben-Shahar’s Happiness Model? The happiness model, also…

Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS)

August 2nd, 2023

Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS): this article explains the Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS), developed by Sonja Lyubomirsky in a practical way. Other highlights include: what happiness is, how to enhance it and strategies to sustain it. Lastly, you can download…

Resilience building

July 27th, 2023

Resilience building: this article explains what resilience building is and why it can help you in your personal and professional life. The article contains some examples of situations in which resilience is important and practical tips to get started with…

Daniel Pink Motivation Theory explained

May 31st, 2023

Daniel Pink Motivation Theory: this article provides a practical explanation of the Daniel Pink Motivation Theory. After reading this article, you’ll understand the basics of this powerful psychological theory. What is the Daniel Pink Motivation Theory? The Daniel…
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