What is positive psychology?

Positive psychology is the sub-discipline of psychology that examines what makes life worth living and how humans can flourish - as individuals and together.

positive psychology is the science of human flourishing and living a good life that excites you

"What is your idea of living the best possible life if money is not an issue? A life of leisure on Paradise Island? A life of sex, drugs, and rock and roll? I actually did a lot of research on this question...Of all the options, the best possible option is to live a DEEP life."

- Paul Wong -

Traditionally, and for many years, psychology used to focus on what makes life difficult for people, what is wrong with some and how we can fix that:

 

  • What is it that makes people depressed and how can we find a cure for that?

  • What is it that makes people anxious and how can we help them overcome that?

  • Why do some people develop schizophrenia, psychosis, or eating disorders, and what can we do to support them best?

It wasn't until a couple of decades ago that psychologists Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi decided it was about time psychologists also did the opposite: Understand what makes life worth living and how humans can live their best possible life. Positive psychology or flourishing science were born!

In the beginning, the quality of positive psychological studies wasn't very robust and solid tools to measure the various topic areas of interest took a while to develop. There was also too much of a focus on just 'feeling good' and a neglect of the fact that humans weren't born to FEEL happy all the time and that negative emotions play an important part in a balanced life. At the time, it was considered to be a 'happiology' and terms like 'toxic positivity' started to emerge.

Luckily, since then, positive psychology science has significantly improved, and, while there still is a lot of room for improvevement, researches from all over the globe have gained some great insights into what humans need in order to flourish, live in line with their purpose, be deeply happy, and live life to the fullest. And, I believe that spreading that science and helping people apply the tools and practices in their lives to create a wonderful experience for them here on earth, doesn't just make them happier, but also everyone around them.

Example topic areas of positive psychology include:

  • What is happiness and how can we be more happy in life?

  • What is a meaningful life and how can we live our purpose?

  • How can we identify our strengths and use them to accomplish goals?

  • How does flourishing impact our cognitive functioning, productivity and performance?

  • How can we use the insights of positive psychology to create flourishing schools and organisations?

  • What is the FLOW state and how can we cultivate it?

  • What role do our social connections play in our happiness?

  • What happens when people languish and how can they best be supported to flourish again?

At the flourishing doc, I use these insights to inform the way I support my clients - through the resources and courses I develop as well as the tools I use in coaching sessions. If you would like to know how you can flourish more in life, book a free call with me to have a chat.