What is Positive Psychology?

IMGP3560So at first a part of me balked at the idea that psychology could really have anything to say about happiness. It’s science, right? I figured that no one needs a person with a clip board to tell them what they need to do to be happy. Doesn’t being happy come from obvious things like having friends and making good choices and having beauty in the world?

Of course! And that is what is awesome about this movement known as Positive Psychology. It’s extremely practical, even obvious. And yet it’s useful and can help you figure out on the personal level what is lacking in your own life.

Forgive me for being a little academic here, but I want to provide a good, basic understanding of what Positive Psychology is so that I can refer to it in future posts. Consider what follows as a groundwork reference.

Positive Psychology has been called the science of happiness, and it’s the most empirically rigorous area of study ever on what people can do to increase their own happiness. More accurately, it’s the study of what happy people are doing that makes them happy.

So what is Positive Psychology?

It’s a branch of psychology that focuses away from what may be wrong with a person’s mind and instead examines what positive practices make life worth living. And the conclusions are not reached through anecdotal evidence but through actual scientific studies. So what have all those hours in the lab revealed?

  • People are happy when they are physically active
  • People are happy when they are connected spiritually
  • People are happy when they are engaged in meaningful relationships with others
  • People are happy when they are kind to and care for those around them
  • People are happy when they understand their own strengths and abilities
  • People are happy when their work puts them into a state of “flow” or deeply satisfying involvement

All of these areas have been tested and proven, and they simply make sense. As we revisit each of these areas in future postings, I want to explore what kinds of practices apply to each one.

To learn more, watch this video that explains the basics of Positive Psychology. You can also visit pursuit-of-happiness.org here, which is where I got most of my information.


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