The term positive psychology is about looking at the possibilities that are there and holding a belief that effort through planning and persistence can achieve what you set your mind to. Through this, there is a higher chance of that becoming your reality.
What is positive psychology?
Positive psychology can get confused with ‘wishful thinking’ which of course we know is not based on effort or evidence and therefore unlikely to become a reality. For example, you might win the lotto! Positive psychology is all about realistic optimism and looking at what is possible. It minimises focus on the negatives but does not ignore reality.
This frame of mind enables a wider focus on our lens as we learn the skill to look at the whole picture, not just a tiny element of it. It allows the mindset to turn focus on certain situations and considering the good aspects, not just the bad. If we feel helpless sometimes that can be because we have learnt to feel that way. Helplessness can become ingrained within our personality and it comes from a perceived lack of control. There are many complexities of learned behaviours.
So just as we have learnt helplessness, we can equally learn optimism. If we can learn one, we can learn the other.
The history of positive psychology
World-renowned psychologist Martin Seligman uncovered this concept and it has since become a popular theory amongst clinical and scientific psychologists. During the 1980’s and 90’s the term took hold and continued research has demonstrated evidence of this state.
Benefits of positive psychology
The earlier one learns to enhance positive psychology the better. Research points towards early intervention reducing other stressors in life if it’s adapted from a young age. However, it’s not as simple as that when we have already been conditioned by our own hereditary, thoughts, beliefs, circumstances, life situations, environment and surrounded by people who influence us daily in many different ways. There is a lot of noise around us!
Positive psychology has been used in the treatment of depression but should not be confused with grief or trauma therapy. Noting the exception of significant circumstances, researched study has stated that only 10% of our happiness is based on circumstances and 40% relates to our own thoughts and actions.
So there is hope for us yet! Positive psychology can also assist to build resilience and post traumatic growth as part of a cognitive transformation. Overall, the advantages of positive psychology cultivate gratitude, boost your personal and professional performance, reduces stress and tension and generally makes you feel happier and more content.
By broadening your outlook you can skill yourself to develop better emotional and intellectual coping resources.
Find out more about how positive psychology can improve your wellbeing and help to see life through a new lens.