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Positive Psychology

 

Explanations > Theories > Positive Psychology

Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

Positive psychology is the study of the positive approaches and experiences of life and how and why they happen.

  • Subjectively, it is about such as well-being, contentment, optimism, happiness.
  • Individually, it is about such as the capacity for love, courage, interpersonal skill, aesthetic, determination, forgiveness, creativity and wisdom.
  • Collectively it is about such as civilization, citizenship, social responsibility, society and tolerance.

Psychology grew up as a science that was related to medicine and was consequently largely about sickness and dysfunction. After writing about such as learned helplessness, Martin Seligman made the brilliant observation that the positive experience was an almost completely unexplored field. Positive psychology is about our strengths rather than our weaknesses. It is about:

  • A pleasant life: seeking success and positive emotions of past, present and future.
  • A good life: building major life themes such as in work, love, and family living.
  • A meaningful life: serving a greater cause or belief beyond our immediate needs.

Interestingly, positive emotions all feel pretty similar, yet negative emotions such as fear, anger, disgust and sadness each have quite unique feelings. This is possibly due to their evolutionary purpose of driving different behaviors, whilst positive feelings just mean 'Stay as you are and keep doing what you're doing'.

Example

A person gives a significant amount to a charity.

Some people just seem happier and upbeat.

So What?

Using it

Understand what makes people happy and offer them happiness as a reward for compliance in some way with your needs.

Defending

When people are being nice to you, wonder why. Maybe they are just being prosocial. Maybe they want something from you.

See also

Prosocial Behavior, Love, Happiness, Ways to happiness

References

Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi (2000), Seligman (2002)

 

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