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Positive Psychology

Positive psychology explores what enables individuals and societies to flourish. It examines how people can cultivate happiness, strength, and resilience, and ultimately live a fulfilling, meaningful life. Rather than trying to alleviate suffering, positive psychology strives to enhance well-being. Positive psychology is a relatively new discipline, but it has grown widely since its emergence.

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Principles of Positive Psychology

Positive psychology aims to uncover what allows humans to thrive—things like achieving a professional goal, creating a loving relationship, or feeling awed by nature. The field aims to provide the ingredients that everyone can use to build the most fulfilling life possible.

Scholars of positive psychology believe that the good and bad parts of life are equally genuine and that good is not the absence of bad but the presence of well-being and purpose. The goal isn’t to ignore suffering but to establish a better understanding of what allows individuals to flourish.

Who founded positive psychology?

Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, is credited with launching the modern field of positive psychology. Seligman became president of the American Psychological Association in 1998 and designated positive psychology a centerpiece of his tenure. Psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Christopher Peterson, and others were pioneers as well.

What’s the history of the positive psychology movement?

The ideas underlying positive psychology trace back to humanistic psychologists such as Abraham Maslow in the 1950s. But the current field was established by Martin Seligman in the 1990s. Seligman and others believed that psychology focused too heavily on disorders and deficits, rather than the strengths that allow people to lead happy, resilient, meaningful lives. Ever since, the field has gained popularity and a tremendous following.

How to Practice Positive Psychology

Positive psychology research has revealed what really boosts well-being, such as strong relationships, engaging work, gratitude, kindness, mindfulness, and purpose. Taking time to cultivate these traits and behaviors—and doing so consistently—can help foster happiness on a daily basis.

How do you practice positive psychology?

You can keep a gratitude journal for a balanced perspective. You can practice mindfulness for a sense of calm and appreciation of the present moment. You can catalogue acts of kindness and generosity. And you can cultivate an optimistic mindset by recognizing positivity and taking steps to reduce the fallout of negativity. These practices and others can help boost happiness.

Can positive psychology make you happier?

Positive psychology interventions are simple behaviors to improve well-being, and research shows that they’re effective. The exercise of writing down three things you’re grateful for, and the exercise of counting kind gestures both increase happiness.

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