If you’re like me and associate happiness with positivity, then I believe you are going to like the topic of positive psychology. This branch of psychology explores what enables individuals and societies to flourish, reaching unlimited potential. More importantly, it examines how people can pursue happiness, strength, and resilience to lead a well-balanced and fulfilled life.
In 1998, Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, is credited to be the “founder” of the modern field of positive psychology. Dr. Seligman believed that psychology focused too much on disorders and deficits, rather than the strength that allows people to lead happy, fulfilling, and resilient lives.
What allows humans to thrive? This is what the discipline of positive psychology aims to understand; how do humans thrive? How do humans achieve professional, academic, and personal goals, create loving and healthy relationships, or simply be amazed by the world. Positive psychology seeks to provide the ingredients and resources that everyone can use to build the most fulfilling life possible. The goal of positive psychology isn’t to ignore suffering or the bad parts of life, that’s inevitable. Academics who study positive psychology believe that good and bad is part of life, that both are equally genuine and provide perspective that good is not the absence of bad but the presence of well-being and purpose.
So, how can someone practice positive psychology? Created by Dr. Seligman, the PERMA theory is the basis of positive psychology; positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment. The best way to practice is to keep a gratitude-perspective journal. Scholars in the field encourage individuals to practice mindfulness to cultivate a sense of calm and appreciate each moment that comes your way. Engage in acts of gratitude, happiness, kindness, and generosity, by keeping an optimistic mindset and taking steps to reduce negativity.
Exercise for the week: write down three things you are grateful for!
Here are mine → Eating dinner with my family, being able to pursue a field that interests me, and sweet potato chips!
Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). Positive Psychology. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/happiness/positive-psychology.
Written by: Abrea, 2021 Undergraduate Intern
Want to talk to someone who can help? If you would like to speak to a professional counselor or psychologist about this and are in the Chicagoland area, please feel free to contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000. We are located at 6819 West 167th Street in Tinley Park, Illinois 60477.