What is Positive Psychology?

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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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Positive psychology is the scientific study of how humans achieve happiness and mental satisfaction, in order to discover how people can lead the most productive lives possible. The movement is different from traditional psychology in that it chooses not to focus on negative life aspects, such as treating mental illnesses or counseling people through life hardships. Positive psychology is based on the principle that all people want to live happy, fulfilled lives. It is intended to build strengths in people to make the world a better place.

Dr. Martin Seligman founded the movement in 2000 as a supplement to traditional psychology, not as a replacement. His objective was to make the field of psychology more well-rounded, because he felt that clinical psychology focused on curing psychological problems but not on what makes people content with their lives on a daily basis. Seligman centralized the concept of positive psychology around three areas of study: positive emotions, positive character traits, and positive institutions.

Emotions are thought by most psychologists to be an indicator of a person’s mental well-being. Positive psychology, however, believes that positive emotions, such as joy or interest, are the actual cause of happiness, not simply an indicator that a person is already happy. To understand positive emotion, psychologists research what makes people have positive feelings about their past, present, and future. Positive psychologists believe that by scientifically researching how to cultivate positive emotions, they may ultimately be able to discover how to help people become happier.


Research on positive character traits and personal virtues is another major part of positive psychology research. Researchers study people’s abilities to love, as well as what makes them more likely to have resilience, courage, and work ethic. They believe that when people apply these positive character traits, it can help them lead more engaged lives. Positive psychology takes these findings and studies them, trying find out what positive character traits most affect people’s happiness and productivity.

Positive institutions are the final concept studied by positive psychologists. Their research on institutions focuses on learning about the qualities that make communities a better place, such as justice, leadership, parental nurturing, and teamwork. These qualities are thought by psychologists to make people happier, because they feel their lives are more meaningful when they live in a positive environment. Findings on positive institutions are generally used in order to discover what makes schools and jobs more satisfying, and therefore more productive.


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Post 5

Icecream17-I think that usually most of the things that we worry about never materialize.

If we spend more time being optimistic then we will have faith that the future will be okay. This is why they say that people that have a strong religious grounding strongly believe that everything will turn out okay.

They believe that their faith will assist them with the future and they do not need to worry. People will sometimes say, “Things have a way of working themselves out.” They also say, “Don’t worry, God will take care of it.”

Sometimes the act of praying and meditating often allows people the opportunity to be more calm and positive for their future.

They usually use positive imagery when mediating and have a peaceful way of looking at the future. They develop an innate ability to put things in the proper perspective which helps to lead happy and more balanced lives.

Post 4

BrickBack-I heard of him. I know if you go to his site called it will take you directly to his site at the University of Pennsylvania.

He has multiple questionnaires that will give you insight as to how optimistic and happy you currently are.

Positive psychology coaching is really a matter of changing ones cognitive beliefs and slowly retraining the mind to expect a positive outlook.

Developing confidence also helps to develop positive psychology optimism. Positive psychology strengths make dramatic changes in ones outlook after visiting a positive psychology center.

Often a self-fulfilling prophecy determines one’s future. Being optimistic frees you from excessive anxiety because anxiety is really a fear that something in the future will go wrong.

That fear can sometimes be paralyzing.

Post 3

SurfNturf- Seligman, a psychologist who founded the positive psychology movement says that psychologists should spend their time researching happy people instead of focusing on depressed subjects.

Seligman, who studied the behavior of depressed people for over twenty years, says that when he began studying happy people he was able to really understand why these people are happy and how they can teach people to be optimistic.

He feels that people can be taught how to be optimistic and when they do the quality of their life will improve dramatically.

Seligman positive psychology studies are so powerful that the University of Pennsylvania is the first school in the country to offer a masters degree in Applied Positive Psychology.

Post 2

The positive psychology definition reveals a confidence in the future that everything will turn out well.

Positive psychology strengths show how having a happy disposition leads to a fulfilling and satisfied life.

Often the role of gratitude is overlooked, as we all have things to be grateful for. People that are in tuned and grateful for all positive measures in life see the beauty in life and thus become more optimistic in the future.

Contrary to what most believe, having a wealthy lifestyle does not affect the level of happiness, when the basics of food and shelter have been met.

Additional money does not make you happy; it is an attitude that exudes gratitude that really makes a person happy. In addition, people that are generally happy have more and better relationships with people which lead to better business prospects.

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