Positive Psychology: The art of living life peacefully

Introduction:-

In this world full of uncertainties and full of stress. Positive Psychology plays an important role. Every being is just searching for a reason to live. This reason is quite important because as human evolved from the nomadic period to homo sapiens they had also evolved emotionally and mentally very well. 

Emotional evolution plays a very important role in one well being. Mental health is a crucial part of life to deal with it’s very important to keep our mind stable and steady to establish harmony. People nowadays are undergoing so many mental traumas. 

The reason for this mental instability is a lagging positive psychology perspective towards life and less meaningful attribute towards life.

Due to this, many researchers, philosophers, and wise people concluded that the establishment of positive psychology and positive perspective has become an important and needful topic for discussion. People started to give more emphasis on positive thinking and keeping a joyful and meaningful attitude towards life. 

So in 1954 Abraham Maslow in his book “Motivation and Personality” first time coined the word Positive Psychology.

What is Positive Psychology?

Positive Psychology is a scientific study of what makes life more worthy to live, focusing on individual and societal well-being. Positive psychology is a relatively new form of psychology. It emphasizes positive influences in a person lives.

Positive psychologists are concerned with positive experiences, enduring psychological traits, positive relationships, and positive institutions. Their work is changing the way we live our lives on individual, societal, and global levels.

Father of Positive Psychology Dr Martin Seligman:-

Professor Martin Seligman has done lots of research in the field of psychology. He had appointed as President of the American Psychological Association in 1988.

 During this period his all major concern is to put more concentration on positive psychology. He establishes the concept of MAPP. MAPP acronym for MASTER OF APPLIED POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY. This establishment had done in Pennsylvania in 2003. This initiative had taken by Seligman to have a further deep analysis of Positive Psychology.

Martin Seligman

History and Background of Positive Psychology:-

Positive psychology had not formally accepted as a branch of psychology until 1988. When Martin Seligman chose it as the theme of his term as president in the American Psychological Association. 

He develops the theory of “ Learned Helplessness” a psychological condition in which a human being or an animal has learned to act or behave helplessly in a particular situation, usually after experiencing some inability to avoid an adverse situation, even when it actually has the power to change harmful circumstances.

He put forth more interest in how to alleviate the depression, than those who resisted becoming depressed. Seligman decided to study the positive aspect of life. The understanding and building of positive aspect emotion of strength and virtue and of positive institutions. 

The first Positive Psychology summit took place in 1999. The first international conference on Positive Psychology took place in 2002.

Research in Positive Psychology:-

Optimism in life

Positive psychology naturally studies happiness, attempting to discover what makes people happy or fulfilled rather than diagnosing and treating what makes them miserable. 

Nevertheless, the issue of suffering cannot be ignored. Positive psychologists just take a different approach to it.

Seligman originally suggested that Positive psychology can be delineated into three overlapping areas of research

  1. Research into the Pleasant Life: The “life of enjoyment,” examines how people optimally experience, forecast, and savour the positive feelings and emotions that are part of normal and healthy living (relationships, hobbies, interests, entertainment, and so forth). Seligman has suggested that this is the most transient element of happiness and maybe the least important, despite its attention.
  2. Good Life: The “life of engagement,” investigates the beneficial effects of immersion, absorption, and flow that individuals feel when optimally engaged with their primary activities. 

These states are experienced when there is a positive match between a person’s strength and the task they are doing, in other words, they feel confident that they can accomplish the tasks they face.

  1. Meaningful Life: “life of affiliation,” questions how individuals derive a positive sense of well-being, belonging, meaning, and purpose from being part of and contributing back to something larger and more permanent than themselves (such as nature, social groups, organizations, movements, traditions, belief systems).

What is PERMA?

PERMA

Seligman later suggested that “Meaningful Life” would be better considered as three different categories, resulting in five elements of well being with the acronym PERMA:

  • Positive emotion – tunable by writing down, every day at bedtime, three things that went well, and why
  • Engagement – tunable by preferentially using one’s highest strengths to perform the tasks which one would perform anyway
  • Relationships – Relationships are essential in fueling positive psychology. Humans receive, share and spread positivity in a relationship
  • Meaning – belonging to and serving something bigger than one’s self
  • Achievement – determination is known to count for more than IQ.

Some other areas of research that have developed out of these ideas include flow, elevation, and learned optimism.

Each of the five PERMA elements were selected according to three criteria:

  1. It contributes to well-being.
  2. Pursued its own sake.
  3. It is defined and measured independently of the other elements.

Pillars of Positive Psychology:-

Pillars of psychology

Happiness:-

Happiness has become a very important part of life and this topic has become very important according to some sociological view.

Some suggestions from Tal Ben-Shahar, 

  • Real happiness requires both pleasure and meaning, providing both present and future gain
  • Happiness is not an end state, but rather a journey; it is gained from the experience of climbing the mountain not from reaching the summit
  • The mind-body connection is important: Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits lead to both physical and mental health
  • Simplify: trying to do everything leads to “time poverty,” which decreases the ability to derive happiness from any activity
  • Pain and suffering are part of life: Expecting constant happiness is unreasonable and leads to disappointment; allowing oneself to feel the full range of emotions, including fear, sadness, and anxiety, increases happiness in the long run
  • Gratitude increases happiness.

Seligman reviewed hundreds of studies on happiness, finding several factors to be more or less important in producing happines

Strengths and Virtues:-

The development of the Character Strengths and Virtue (CSV) handbook by Seligman and his colleague, Christopher Peterson, represents the first attempt on the part of the research community to identify and classify the positive psychological traits of human beings. Much like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of general psychology, the CSV provides a theoretical framework to assist in understanding strengths and virtues and for developing practical applications for positive psychology. This manual identifies six classes of virtue (“core virtues”), made up of twenty-four measurable character strengths.

Peterson and Seligman reviewed a wide range of cultures and suggested that these six virtues are considered good by the vast majority of cultures and throughout history and that these traits lead to increased happiness when practised. The organization of these virtues and strengths is as follows:

  1. Wisdom and Knowledge: Creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, perspective, Innovation
  2. Courage: bravery, persistence, integrity and vitality.
  3. Humanity: love, kindness, social intelligence.
  4. Justice: citizenship, fairness and leadership.
  5. Temperance: forgiveness and mercy, humility, prudence and self-control
  6. Transcendence: appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, humour and spirituality.

Flow:-

A concept proposed by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, flow is an intrinsically rewarding experience that can help one achieve a goal (such as winning a game) or improving skills (for example, becoming a better chess player).

Components found by Csikszentmihalyi:-

  1. There are clear goals every step of the way.
  2. There is immediate feedback to one’s action. Successes and failures in the course of the activity have appeared so that behaviour had adjusted as needed
  3. There is a balance between challenges and skills
  4. Action and awareness has merged
  5. Distractions had excluded from consciousness
  6. There is no worry of failure
  7. Self-consciousness disappears
  8. The sense of time becomes distorted
  9. The activity becomes “autotelic” (an end in itself, done for its own sake)

Good work:

As mentioned above, having more money does not reliably cause more happiness. Still, time spent at work constitutes a large proportion of time in our lives. The issue for Positive psychology is how to make work meaningful, and thus lead to positive outcomes both for the individuals doing the work and for society as a whole.

Gardner has suggested Three S for Good work,

  1. Technical Excellence (the worker knows his work and keeps up with the latest knowledge and techniques)
  2. Being has Engaged ( It feels good and better).
  3. Working Ethically in a way that is responsible (good work is good in a moral sense, it serves the wider good).

Applications:-

Impact of Positive Psychology on Education:-

Positive psychology has applied to education by Seligman and his colleagues, who defined “Positive Education” as education for both the traditional skills of achievement and the skills of well-being.

 In 2008 a whole-of-school implementation of Positive Psychology had undertaken by Geelong Grammar School (Victoria, Australia) in conjunction with the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania

. This involved initial training of teaching staff in the principles and skills of Positive psychology. Ongoing support was provided by The Positive Psychology Center staff remaining in-residence for the entire year. This, and other implementations of positive education, suggests that it is possible to educate not just for prosperity based on financial wealth but prosperity that includes well-being and happiness.

Impact of Positive psychology on Clinical Psychology:

Positive psychologists have proposed a complementary relationship between traditional clinical psychology, which attempts to understand and treat psychological distress, and Positive psychology, which is concerned with well-being and optimal functioning. 

Seligman and others had suggested that a strengths-based approach will support people with psychological problems not just in alleviating their worry and sadness. But enable them to experience joy, satisfaction, and lives filled with meaning and purpose states that have automatically occur when suffering is removed. 

In addition, they have argued that “the fostering of positive emotion and the building of character may help both directly and indirectly to alleviate suffering and to undo its root causes.”

Criticism:-

While Positive psychology has made contributions to the field of psychology, several critics have pointed out that it is not without its faults. For example, the simplistic approach taken by some psychologists in the application of positive psychology. A “one size fits all” approach may not be beneficial, suggesting there has a need for individual differences to be incorporated into its application.

Other causes for concern include the division inside the field of psychology caused by differing opinions held by psychologists on Positive psychology and the separatist and negative approach taken by some positive psychologists to ideas or views that run counter to the approach of Positive psychology. 

 A rejection of negativity and the “tyranny of the positive attitude” which leads to the unintended consequence of making those who are not able to go beyond their suffering or fail to achieve optimism to add guilt and a sense to failure to their problems; the danger of support from the media for Positive psychology enhancing results and leading to a loss of scientific professionalism

 REFERENCES:-

Martin Seligman – https://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/people/martin-ep-seligman

PERMA Concept – https://positivepsychology.com/perma-model/

Pillars of positive psychology – https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-positive-psychology-2794902.

Criticism – https://dspsychology.com.au/what-is-positive-psychology/

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