Have you tapped your potential?

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What is Positive Psychology?

The a set of scientific studies of what makes life most worth living, focusing on both individual and societal well-being.

What do the studies show?

  1. People overestimate the impact of money on their happiness by quite a lot.
  2. Spending money on experiences provides a bigger boost to happiness than spending money on material possessions.
  3. Gratitude is a big contributor to happiness in life, suggesting that the more we cultivate gratitude, the happier we will be.
  4. Oxytocin may provoke greater trust, empathy, and morality in humans, meaning that giving hugs or other shows of physical affection may give you a big boost to your overall wellbeing (and the wellbeing of others.
  5. Those who intentionally cultivate a positive mood to match the outward emotion they need to display (i.e., in emotional labor) benefit by more genuinely experiencing the positive mood.
  6. Happiness is contagious; those with happy friends and significant others are more likely to be happy in the future.
  7. People who perform acts of kindness towards others not only get a boost in wellbeing, they are also more accepted by their peers.
  8. Volunteering time to a cause you believe in improves your wellbeing and life satisfaction.
  9. Spending money on other people results in greater happiness for the giver.
  10. Positive Psychology interventions reduce distress and significantly improve well-being.

Who paved the path?

William James

William James Picture

James was a philosopher, physician, and psychologist, and he was the first educator in the United States to offer a psychology course. Many regard James as America's "first positive psychologist" due to his keen interest in a person's subjectivity and his conviction that "objectivity is founded on intense subjectivity."

Abraham Maslow

Abraham Maslow

In his 1954 book "Motivation and Personality," Maslow coined the term "positive psychology." 

Critical of psychology's emphasis on disorder and dysfunction, he claimed it lacked an accurate understanding of human potential, emphasizing how psychology effectively reveals our negative side by disclosing a great deal about our illnesses and shortcomings but not nearly enough about our virtues and aspirations.

Martin Seligman

Famous for his experiments and theory of learned helplessness, Chris founded Positive Psychology in 1998.

His work in learned helplessness and pessimistic attitudes garnered an interest in optimism, leading to a collaboration with Christopher Peterson to create a positive side to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi

Csikszentmihalyi was born in Hungary in 1934 and was profoundly affected by the Second World War. As a child, he was separated from his family and friends and interned in an Italian prison, where he developed his first concept of working with flow and optimal experience.

Drawn to painting, he noticed that the act of creation was frequently more significant than the finished work itself and became deeply intrigued with the "flow state," making it his life's work to scientifically identify the various methods for achieving it.

Christopher Peterson

Chris Peterson

Peterson was a psychology professor and former chair of the Department of Clinical Psychology at the University of Michigan. He co-authored Character Strengths and Virtues with Martin Seligman and widely recognized for his work on optimism, hope, character, and well-being in addition to his work on the DSM.

And the Criticism?


The major negative response to Positive Psychology has centered on the concept of "Toxic Positivity," which is the idea that individuals do not completely notice, process, or regulate all emotions, including anger or grief.

This can result in the accidental stigmatization of negative emotional states and their suppression.

Macho Man Celebrating

References

Aknin, L., Norton, M. and Dunn, E.. (2009). From wealth to well-being? Money matters, but less than people think', . The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4: 6, 523 — 527.
Appiah, R., Wilson-Fadiji, A., Schutte, L., & Wissing, M. P.. (2020). Effects of a Community-Based Multicomponent Positive Psychology Intervention on Mental Health of Rural Adults in Ghana. Applied psychology. Health and well-being, 12(3), 828–862.
Barraza, J. A., & Zak, P. J. . (2009). Empathy toward strangers triggers oxytocin release and subsequent generosity. . Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1167, 182–189. .
Bolier, L., Haverman, M., Westerhof, G.J. et al. . (2013). Positive psychology interventions: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies. BMC Public Health 13, 119 .
Brown, L., Ospina, J. P., Celano, C. M., & Huffman, J. C. . (2019). The Effects of Positive Psychological Interventions on Medical Patients' Anxiety: A Meta-analysis. Psychosomatic medicine, 81(7), 595–602. .
Chakhssi, F., Kraiss, J. T., Sommers-Spijkerman, M., & Bohlmeijer, E. T. . (2018). The effect of positive psychology interventions on well-being and distress in clinical samples with psychiatric or somatic disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC psychiatry, 18(1), 211. .
Dunn, E. W., Aknin, L. B., & Norton, M. I. . (2008). Spending money on others promotes happiness. Science (New York, N.Y.), 319(5870), 1687–1688..
Fowler, J. H., & Christakis, N. A. . (2008). Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study. . BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 337, a2338. .
Froh, J. J. . (2004). The History of Positive Psychology: Truth Be Told. . NYS Psychologist, 16(3), 18–20..
Jenkinson, C. E., Dickens, A. P., Jones, K., Thompson-Coon, J., Taylor, R. S., Rogers, M., Bambra, C. L., Lang, I., & Richards, S. H. (2013). Is volunteering a public health intervention? . (2013). A systematic review and meta-analysis of the health and survival of volunteers. . BMC public health, 13, 773. .
Layous, K., Nelson, S. K., Oberle, E., Schonert-Reichl, K. A., & Lyubomirsky, S. . (2012). Kindness counts: prompting prosocial behavior in preadolescents boosts peer acceptance and well-being. PloS one, 7(12), e51380. .
Pina, I., Braga, C. M., de Oliveira, T., de Santana, C. N., Marques, R. C., & Machado, L. . (2020). Positive psychology interventions to improve well-being and symptoms in people on the schizophrenia spectrum: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Revista brasileira de psiquiatria (Sao Paulo, Brazil : 1999), S1516-44462020005041203. Advance online publication.

Great read on psychology. I agree with how the article talks about how your attitude is everything. I truly believe that when you get up in the morning, you can decide how your day is going to go. It’s a mindset

Hey! I have to agree with you too! If we wake up and declare its going to be a bad day then we will probably reap what we sow. Even if its a rainy day I tell the kids its going to be a great day because we can do crafts and make cookies and even on rainy days they wake up with a smile!

@Missy I couldn’t agree more.  Material things will never bring true fulfillment. You have to find it within.  Having a good support system is a blessing. @goingsteady23 I agree with James account that an experience is how it’s felt.  Logically accounting for the experience in our brain is not the same.

I find myself to be a very positive person and rely on myself and my family and friends for support and encouragement. It is true that we can’t find happiness in material things and we have to find it for ourselves and not use material things to try to fill that void. I’m a realist and very literal so I understand that somethings might not work out and I’ve come to except that and learn to deal with setbacks in life. This article was helpful and the fact that my husband tends to be more on the negative side on his outlook on life and situations i’m looking forward to sharing some of the insights in this article because it was very well written and better than I could’ve explained it. Thanks!

I couldn’t have said it better myself! It’s important to find that balance of being positive and realistic because not everyday is going to be rainbows and cupcakes. Learn to enjoy and accept life in the rain too!!!

Not only does the subject matter of psychology demand from him a point of view; the nature of his own psychological activity demands it." James was a very influential behaviorist, and no one has done more to shape thinking in this area.

He was also a major figure in the philosophical movement known as pragmatism. James is best known for his philosophically sophisticated and empirically rich account of how experience seems to us when we feel it, rather than the account of what brain states underlie these felt experiences.

I’m a believer in your mindset impacting your life, and I honestly believe a constant negative mindset can not only make you mentally unwell, but also physically unwell.  Getting into the habit of saying positive affirmations is a good way to start the day.

Having a nice experience with someone you enjoy, or even by yourself like a fantastic workout will give you those wonderful oxytocin feels.🥰 Spending money on material possessions - while also can be nice, it’s not the same as having an experience.

Delightful read on positive psychology - very nice coverage of the history and tenets. I'm a fan!