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WHAT IS POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY?

Positive psychology is described in many different ways, but fundamentally it’s about what makes people flourish, find meaning and feel happy.


It’s a relatively new area of psychology which focuses on an individual’s strengths rather than their weaknesses and helps people live their best possible life. This contrasts with ‘negative’ psychology, which typically focuses on people who are struggling with their mental health and aims to help them get back to ‘normal’.


There are countless positive psychology models which suggest what is needed to flourish in life, but most come down to a few key dimensions:​

  • Engaging in activities that bring pleasure and joy

  • Finding a sense of purpose and meaning in life

  • Connecting with others and developing relationships

  • Cultivating calmness, peace and self-care


Whilst research suggests that a person’s happiness is determined by approximately 50% genetics and 10% circumstances, a massive 40% is a result of day-to-day actions. Doing things to enhance psychological wellbeing can really help you thrive and enjoy life.


Practising positive psychology includes:​

  • Developing gratitude and appreciating the positives

  • Making time for pleasurable activities

  • Praising yourself for your achievements and strengths, however small

  • Viewing problems as an opportunity to grow and develop

  • Cultivating self-compassion towards yourself and your body

  • Trying to help and be kind to other people

  • Taking time to rest and look after yourself


To find out more about positive psychology and how to apply it, it’s worth reading the 10 keys to happier living on Action for Happiness’s website. There’s also a great TED talk by Martin Seligman, founder of the positive psychology movement.