When I recently read an article in Psychology Today about the newest branch of psychology I was excited: Finally! Finally, I thought, we can leave the problem-focused approach behind! As therapists who work solution-focused this has always been the only way to counsel our clients. I was trilled about the scientific backup.
What is Positive Psychology?
Positive psychology is one of the newest branches of psychology. This particular area of psychology focuses on how to help human beings prosper and lead healthy, happy lives. Many other branches of psychology tend to focus on dysfunction and and “difficult” behaviour whereas positive psychology is centered on helping people living a happier life.
Positive Psychology – The opposite of Problem-Focused Psychology
Positive psychology is designed to “complement and extend the problem-focused psychology that has been dominant for decades,” explained the late Christopher Peterson, author of “A Primer in Positive Psychology” and professor at the University of Michigan, in a 2008 article published in Psychology Today. “(It) is…a call for psychological science and practice to be as concerned with strength as with weakness; as interested in building the best things in life as in repairing the worst; and as concerned with making the lives of normal people fulfilling as with healing pathology,” Peterson wrote.
Impact on You
Some of the major findings of positive psychology include:
- Money doesn’t necessarily buy well-being, but spending money on other people can make individuals happier.
- People are generally content and even happy.
- Some of the best ways to combat disappointments and setbacks include strong social relationships and character strengths.
- While happiness is influenced by genetics, people can learn to be happier by developing optimism, gratitude, and altruism.
- Work can be important to well-being, especially when people are able to engage in work that is purposeful and meaningful.
Positive psychology is often confused with positive thinking, and misconstrued as self-help tactics rather than research-backed theories. Positive thinking is a way of thinking ourselves into better behaviour and greater resilience, rather than behaving our way into a different frame of mind. On the other hand, it is the scientific study of what makes people thrive. It focuses on behaviors that can lead to a more optimized frame of mind as well as on thought patterns that lead to more functional behaviors.
If this is all a bit too scientific I would like to recommend a great book by Gretchen Rubin: “The Happiness Project” https://the-happiness-project.com/ If you follow Gretchen Rubin through her year-long journey towards a fullfilled life you will be thrilled to start your own happiness project. Enjoy!