What is PPsy

What is POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY (PPsy)?

Most forms of psychology have traditionally focused on illness and disease (what is WRONG with the individual). Positive Psychology, in contrast, takes a developmental view to explore what is RIGHT with the individual. Using empirical data and double blind studies, researchers around the country and around the world analyze the techniques and thought processes that can help others obtain a positive state of mind. In the application, Positive Psychology uses tools like gratitude, mindfulness, savoring, and appreciative inquiry to cultivate a more joyful state of being.

As Penn State’s Positive Psychology Center states:  

The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.

Martin Seligman, Ph.D., the “father of positive psychology” also gives the following overview of Positive Psychology’s methods, and these pillars are the focus of the Positive Psychology Ambassador program.

WELL BEING is achieved through consistent effort to blend

  • Positive Emotion
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Accomplishments

What is happiness?

Positive Psychology’s mission is to allow for more joy and meaning in a person’s life. Researchers have found that happiness does not mean that we are in a state of extreme joy at all times, but that overall, we are content and feel fulfilled by our lives. It should not be confused with “think happy thoughts” philosophies or admonitions, similar to Stewart Smalley’s famous “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and Doggone it, people like me.”

Happiness can mean finding a natural clarity and stability in our minds, finding joy in our relationships, or being positively engaged with our careers and volunteer work. More importantly, we can learn how to be more joyful with just a few simple exercises. Applying Positive Psychology to our lives might include:  

  • Savoring: really enjoy those things that make you happy, perhaps recalling them in your mind later, or speaking about them with a loved one.
  • Finding “flow”: seek out activities in your work and personal life that challenge and absorb you.
  • Practicing forgiveness: write a letter or journal entry and let go of the anger towards a person who has harmed you.

…And many more that you will learn in the Positive Psychology Ambassador Program!

What does this mean for our daily lives?

As part of the Positive Psychology Ambassador program, we learn to use the tools given to us from Positive Psychology researchers in order to combat the daily onslaught of negativity, sarcasm, or judgment that is so often weighing us down.   

Let’s take one example of how positive psychology can turn even small instances into an opportunity for enjoyment. Pretend that you’ve just arrived home, tired in need of a little relaxation, and the dog is staring at you. We can think “Ugh, I have to walk the dog”. Or, using positive psychology techniques, including mindfulness and reframing, we might turn this into, “while I walk the dog, I can get some fresh air, clear my mind, get a little exercise, and perhaps even say hello to the neighbors.” And how much better does that feel?

As a growing number of people throughout the world become increasingly aware of the benefits of practicing PPsy (gratitute, mindfulness, well-being, flow...), the more change will be felt around the Globe. 

References:

Cohen, S., Alper, C., Doyle, W., Treanor, J., Turner, R. (2006). Positive Emotional Style Predicts Resistance to Illness After Experimental Exposure to Rhinovirus or Influenza A Virus. Psychosomatic Medicine, 68, 809- 815 

Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. New York: Penguin

Seligman, M., Steen, T., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist

Tindle, H.A. et al. (2008). Optimism, Hostility and Incident Coronary Heart Disease and Mortality in the Women's Health Initiative. American Heart Association Circulation, 118: S_1145-S_1146