What is positive psychology?

Positive psychology is a growing field that studies what makes people happy. It looks at positive emotions and methods of fulfillment, like pleasure, spirituality, gratitude, hope and charity. It also examines the difference between creating enduring happiness and feeling good about yourself for a moment or a day. Several universities offer courses on positive psychology. These classes may ask students to review their own lives and how they achieve happiness and satisfaction. Some academics and educators criticize this field as lacking in hard science and say that professors don't often consider individual differences among people as affecting happiness.

Dr. Andrea Pennington, MD
Integrative Medicine
Positive psychology is the science of the positive aspects of human life such as happiness, well-being, and flourishing. It is the scientific study of optimal functioning that aims to discover and promote the factors that allow individuals and communities to thrive.
Ronald Siegel
Positive psychology is a unifying term that encompasses the study of positive emotions, full engagement in activities, virtuous personal characteristics, and paths to fulfillment and meaning in life. It also investigates how relationships and institutions can support the quest for increased satisfaction and meaning. Positive psychology doesn't consider the traditional approach of treating mental illness to be misguided. Rather, it supplements the study of mental disorders and their treatment, placing attention on strengths as well as weaknesses, and taking what has been learned about psychological science and applying it to the goal of greater happiness and meaning.

What if you don't have a psychological disorder but you'd like to improve your emotional state, find more meaning in your life, or fulfill your potential? The growth of the field of positive psychology has expanded the body of scientific evidence and increased the number of individuals who are benefiting from techniques and therapies aimed at developing a positive outlook that improves the quality of their daily lives. In sum, the burgeoning field of positive psychology addresses questions of happiness, vitality, and meaning in life as worthy of serious scientific research.
Edward Phillips
Physical Therapy
Positive psychology seeks to help people thrive and stretch, to recognize and build upon deep-seated strengths, to identify and actively create happiness. Excelling here doesn't depend on your paycheck, the car you drive, or the size of your home. With these thoughts in mind, the goal is to encourage you to appreciate your life, invest it with greater meaning, and reap more joy.

Positive psychology tucks under one umbrella the study of positive emotions, full engagement in activities, personal virtues and strengths, and paths to fulfillment and a meaningful life. That's quite a disparate grab bag, and by dipping into it you may well locate deeper satisfaction, fun, and greater abundance in your life.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.