What is Positive Psychology?

Traditionally, the study of psychology includes a deep analysis of psychopathology, behaviors that deviate from the “norm” and the negative feelings that are associated with them. The focus in this form of study and this approach to therapy best serves that portion of the population that is in crisis, not functional, or in acute emotional pain.

But what about the even larger portion of the population that are functional, not in crisis yet still find themselves in a chronic state of dissatisfaction? They find themselves “stuck”, not fulfilled by their work, their relationships, themselves…. For these individuals, a newer approach to psychological health might be that of Positive Psychology.

In Positive psychology, the focus shifts from what is wrong to what is right. What works, not just in the pursuit of happiness, but in the practice of it. Positive psychology wants to know what do healthy, happy people do, how do they do it, and how can we do more of that ourselves.

This approach, in both coaching and counseling, is a great adjunct to traditional approaches. In my own coaching work with clients, the use of positive psychology principles serves as a tool with which to examine where we are at, what is not working in our lives and what we may want to bring into our every day, or develop into a practice…. meaning we have to take action. Taking action changes outcomes, new outcomes lead to change… do that enough times, and your life starts to feel different, you build resilience, meet goals, experience more happiness. Life just gets better.

What Does This Mean for You?

The good news is that when you use the concepts of Positive Psychology to effect change in your life, you end up focusing on things that make you happy:

  • Connection
  • Community
  • Meaning
  • Support
  • Spirituality
  • Wellness
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Love

In this case, developing a healthier outlook means doing fun stuff, with people you like and creating experiences that rewire your brain for happiness. That is a very different approach that hours of traditional therapy where you might examine the origins of your anxiety and unhappiness.

So if Positive Psychology is so great, why isn’t everyone practicing it?

In next week’s post, I will explore with you what I’ve learned from my client work and why we as a society and culture find Positive Psychology a difficult approach to personal change. Until then, let me know what aspect of Positive Psychology might need some attention in your life. Are you dialed into your relationships with your family? Do you have a great circle of friends? Where do you find meaning? What do you value and how much of your time is dedicated to these values?

Feel free to drop me a line, leave me a voice message, or comment below. I would love to hear from you.

Looking Forward, Carmen Isais