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The Practice of Positive Psychology

How can we use it to improve our self-worth?

Key points

  • Positive psychology emphasizes happiness, well-being, and the strengths we have.
  • The practice of positive psychology can improve our sense of self-worth through a development of optimism toward life.
  • This review demonstrates that positive psychology can lead to increased motivation, happiness, and enhanced relationships.

This post was written by Eric M. Hanna, Ph.D.

Andrea Piaquadio/Pexels
Source: Andrea Piaquadio/Pexels

Do you ever find it easier to critique yourself rather than give yourself a compliment? Do you ever notice that your supervisor tends to point out what it is that you haven’t done instead of what you have done well? It can often be the case that these messages from ourselves and others tend to allow for a negative self-perception, which leads to a lower sense of self-worth. If this is something you can relate to, please read on to learn about the practice of positive psychology, a way to think and feel about oneself that can lead to feeling confident and empowered.

What is positive psychology?

Positive psychology is the study of human strengths and virtues. It focuses on what makes people thrive. The term “positive psychology” was coined by psychologist Abraham Maslow, but the modern-day positive psychology movement is credited to psychologist Martin Seligman. While much of the practice of psychology focuses on mental illness, trauma, and the absence of suffering, Seligman believes that there should be more attention to an individual’s happiness and well-being. He notes this could be achieved through the identification of one’s strengths and positive traits.

How Can I Practice Positive Psychology?

Here are three positive psychology techniques to practice and how you can benefit from them:

  • Positive Traits Exercise

This is the practice of thinking about and identifying positive characteristics about oneself. Perhaps we are kind, intelligent, and or creative. How often do we think about ourselves like this? Taking the time to do so can serve as a reminder that we are valuable and have many strengths.

How often do we reflect on our days and think about what we did wrong? What if we chose to place more focus on what we did well? Taking a few minutes at the end of our day to write down our experiences that we felt went better can get us used to thinking more positively about ourselves and others.

  • Acts of Kindness

Performing acts of kindness for others has been shown to promote happiness. The feeling of helping others can allow us to feel better about ourselves. Additionally, we can direct kindness toward ourselves, often referred to as self-compassion. Think about how you might treat a good friend who needs support. Now apply those same responses to yourself. Treat yourself as a good friend.

The Benefits of Positive Psychology

There are many potential benefits of practicing positive psychology including an increase in self-esteem, improved relationships, and a greater outlook on life. Research in the realm of positive psychology has found that gratitude, social connection, and kindness are all important to living our best lives.

When we start to focus more on our strengths and can think more positively about ourselves this can not only increase our self-value and confidence but also lead to feeling more worthy of being in relationships with others.

With the repeated practice of positive psychology exercises, an individual can become more at ease with accepting positive thoughts about themselves and be more apt to look for the uplifting experiences in their day. This increased positive outlook can ultimately lead to a greater sense of happiness, fulfillment, and self-worth.


Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. Free Press.

Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5–14.

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