Now there is a branch of psychology known as positive psychology that is quickly gaining attention. Anyone who has undergone psychotherapy and other psychological treatment are likely accustomed to sessions that focus mainly on the negative aspects, such as abnormal thoughts and behaviors and other forms of dysfunction and often leave you feeling worse rather than better. Positive psychology replaces the outdated pathological model of therapy with a wellness model in which the counselor sees you as strong and capable, rather than weak and disabled.
What Is Positive Psychology and Why Is It Important?
As the name suggests, this branch of psychology focuses on positivity to guide patients on the path to a happier life. The goal is to allow individuals to better achieve their full potential, and lead more fulfilling lives, even as they are working through negativity in their lives or pasts. By focusing on the positive aspects, patients learn to build on their strengths and building the best lives they can for continued happiness.
What Is Happiness?
In positive psychology, the meaning of happiness is experiencing a sense of well-being coupled with feeling that life is worthwhile, meaningful and good. By focusing on these feelings, patients can overcome challenges, allowing them to heal and focus on their strengths, positive attributes and energizing emotions.
How It Works
Positive therapy focuses on 7 key topics in an effort to bring about positive change. These include:
- The strength of character and virtue
As patients work through these aspects, positivity can be learned through showing gratitude, altruism and optimism, rather than focusing solely on the maladaptive aspects of psychology. Addressing the underlying issues is still important, just not the sole purpose of therapy. There are times when a realistic or even negative view of a situation can be helpful, acknowledging and validating hardship is part of the process. Positive psychology takes a realistic approach, not a pollyanna just be happy approach. When the patient is able to build on existing strengths and personality traits, embrace happiness, he or she will be better equipped to deal with hardship and live a more enriched, fulfilling life.
The Importance of Authentic Happiness
Authentic happiness, which is the goal of positive psychology, occurs when a person is able to appreciate and relish the pleasures in life, become more resilient, and reduce physical and emotional distress. Simple pleasures in life include companionship, satisfying our own bodily needs and things we encounter in the natural environment. By combining optimism with inner strengths, positive psychology helps to build self-esteem and an appreciation for oneself that leads to a more energy, productivity, and creativity.
There have been numerous benefits discovered when applying positive psychology techniques and exercises, including improved health, decreased blood pressure, improved physical and psychological well-being, and better coping skills to deal with set backs, hardship and stress.
A key benefit is discovering inner qualities of power and endurance, and developing life enhancing skills that ease pain and suffering, while achieving deep, lasting happiness.