Positive Psychology

Positivepsychology Withtext

Happiness is a valid ingredient to a long, healthy, and meaningful life. To some people, happiness is natural while others strive for it. This is where positive psychology is making progress in leaps and bounds. This article deals with understanding what positive psychology is and its nuances.

What is Positive Psychology?

Relatively a new branch of psychology, it deals with discovering and exploring avenues like people and institutions that can help others realize and lead a meaningful and content life. It focuses on the fact that life is not just about surviving rather leading a satisfactory life. The researchers in this field rely on practices that ensure the overall well-being of a person.

How is Positive Psychology Different From Other Branches of Psychology?

Unlike other branches of psychology, positive psychology is more about identifying positive elements that lead to positive mental health. Although any branches of a discipline cannot be compartmentalized, there is overlapping. But positive psychology deals with positives rather than the problems and weaknesses of man.

History of Positive Psychology

The first person to use the term Positive psychology was a humanistic psychologist called Abraham Maslow in the 1950s. Martin Seligman is considered to be the founder of Positive Psychology. His extensive research has led to psychology focusing more on healing damage rather than only addressing the question of ‘what went wrong?’ Since he became the president of the American Psychologists Association in 1998, he diverted the focus of psychology to not just focus on the negatives like mental illness, trauma, or suffering but also to focus on positives that can help build a meaningful and happy life. Others who have contributed to the field are Christopher Peterson and Mihaly Csikszentmihaly.

How to apply Positive Psychology?

Applying positive psychology isn’t limited to clinical tests or research, one can apply it in their daily life. According to positive psychologists, identifying positive character traits such as courage or humanity is an important milestone in realizing and living a positive life. Positive psychology practices can be applied in our daily life by being grateful. That means we can show gratitude or be grateful for the things we have in our life. By listing them out we will see how fulfilling and meaningful our life is.  It’s important to note here that positive psychology doesn’t suggest that we turn a blind eye to negative emotions. The idea is to focus on both positive and negative emotions we feel and to deal with them maturely.

The Major Aims of Positive Psychology

There are four major aims-

  1. Face the challenges that life throws at us and turn our failures or setbacks to our advantage.
  2. Engage and connect with others around us.
  3. Leading a meaningful life by finding fulfillment in productivity and creativity.
  4. Connect with others by helping them find meaning, wisdom, and happiness in their life.

What is the PERMA Model?

Proposed by Seligman, this model helps in explaining the concept of well-being in a detailed fashion. It is actually an acronym that defines the five facets of well-being-

  1. P- Positive emotion– the idea is to enjoy the moment and experience positive emotions.
  2. E- Engagement- it means to be completely engrossed in doing something that we enjoy. In order to ensure overall well-being, it is important to completely immerse ourselves in things we excel in.
  3. R- (Positive) Relationships– man is a social animal, so to grow as a person one needs to interact and forge meaningful relations with others.
  4. M- Meaning– it is important to find meaning in life. When we recognize that there is something bigger than us, we truly attach meaning to our lives.
  5. A- Accomplishment / Achievement– we flourish when we succeed or accomplish our goals. Without achieving our goals, we cannot ensure overall well-being. These five facets are quantifiable. This model focuses not just on positive emotions but pushes one to develop meaning, success, and relationships in their life.

The Concept of Flow

‘Flow’ is a term and concept coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly. He postulated that when people find meaning in an activity, they are passionate about, they lose the sense of time completely. Artists, musicians, sports persons, writers lose track of time while immersed in their works. Flow is an important element in leading a fulfilling life.

The Concept of Flourishing

When we live our life as per the PERMA model, we reach a state of ‘flourishing’. When we achieve our goals, nourish our talents, forge meaningful relationships, feel enjoyment and do our bit for the world, we are said to be flourishing. According to the positive psychologist, Dr. Lynn Scoot flourishing is not a trait; rather a process that requires continuous action.

Criticisms of Positive Psychology

Like any other theory, positive psychology has its share of criticisms as well.

  1. The problem of objectivity– like any other social science discipline it is difficult to remain neutral during research. There are chances of research findings being a bit overstated or misleading especially when they are pertaining to human behavior. Being scientific becomes difficult because even research methods have limitations. Although positive psychology has graduated from these limitations and moved on to be more scientific in its approach.
  2. Too much reliability on survey data- another criticism received by many social sciences is the problem of relying too much on data collected through surveys. Although, positive psychology doesn’t collect data from random surveys. They focus on getting information from those related to the individual. Positive psychologists are expected to keep this limitation in mind while planning their research.
  3. The problem of ethnocentrism– due to its inception and development being in the western world, positive psychology is often criticized for focusing on the western audience where issues like poverty and injustice are not the focal point. However, in recent times the discipline has widened its research of non-western audiences as well.
  4. More focus on the positive– another valid criticism is that positive psychology focuses on the positive aspects while negating the negative ones that are a part of the character of the individual. It is also criticized for focusing on the individual and not paying sufficient attention to relationships, groups, and organizations.


Being fairly a young discipline, positive psychology has a lot to achieve and focus on in the coming decades. To some extent, it helps individuals adjust to the changing dynamics of the world. With the establishment of the International Positive Psychology Association, there are some promising developments in this field in the coming years.