Everyone’s life involves peaks and valleys. What is good in life is as genuine and as significant as what is not good and therefore deserves equal attention when working with clients attempting to modify lifestyle behavior patterns.
The field of psychology has focused much of its efforts on human problems, pathology, and how to remedy the condition. Furthermore, psychology has evolved to embrace the disease model of human nature where people are seen as flawed and fragile, casualties of tough environments or bad genetics, and if not in denial, then in recovery.
Positive Psychology proposes to correct this imbalance and to challenge the pervasive assumptions of the disease model. In simple terms, positive psychology is the scientific study of what goes right in life. It calls for as much focus on strength as on weakness, as much interest on creating the best things in life as on repairing the worst, and as much attention to fulfilling and developing healthy lives as to healing the wounds of the distressed and diseased.
Is Positive Psychology Just Happiology?
When positive psychology is featured in the popular media it is often associated with the happiness movement and the study of happiness. Positive psychologists do study positive traits and dispositions – characteristics such as kindness, curiosity, and the ability to work on a team – as well as values, interests, talents, and abilities. They also study social institutions that can enable the good life: friendship, marriage, family, education, religion and so on. The notable strength of positive psychology is its continuity with the tried and true psychological research methods and the belief that these can be used to study what makes life most worth living.
The Three Pillars of Positive Psychology
The framework of positive psychology is based on three related topics:
1. Positive subjective experiences (happiness, pleasure, gratification, fulfillment)
2. Positive individual traits (strength of character, talents, interests, values)
3. Positive institutions (families, schools, businesses, communities, societies)
Connecting these three arenas positive institutions facilitate the development and display of positive traits, which in turn facilitate positive subjective experiences.
Want to learn more – check out this just released course Positive Psychology by one of the fore most experts and founders of the positive psychology movement Christopher Peterson, PhD and Kathleen Xydis. You will be introduced to strategies that help you connect with your clients, sustain motivation by creating positive flow and you will learn how to implement principles from the emerging field of positive psychology. The authors apply these principles to the wellness and fitness arena and provide insight into motivation, reinforcement and other factors that affect behavior change and support compliance with healthy lifestyle habits.
Also, don’t miss this fascinating TED Lecture by one of the founding fathers of the Positive Psychology movement, Martin Seligman.
Adapted from A Primer in Positive Psychology by Christopher Peterson, PhD