Positive Psychology is a scientific approach of studying human thoughts, feelings, and behavior. It focuses on building strengths and not weaknesses and boosting the science of well-being instead of repairing the bad. Positive psychology is a subfield of psychology.
Positive psychology did not arise out of a vacuum. It was inspired by various psychological and philosophical traditions that existed even before the new millennium.
Humanistic Psychology, which arose in the mid 20th century with roots embedded in Greek Philosophy, had a prime influence on positive psychology.
Psychologists like Abraham Maslow, known for his hierarchy of human needs and Carl Rogers, for his client-centred therapy, invested heavily in researching human potential, growth, wellness and creativity. Their works have taken the form of key concepts in positive psychology.
The three aims of Psychology before World War 2 was to:
- Cure the mentally ill.
- Enhance the lives of ordinary people.
- Identify and nurture high talent.
Reduced resources and the impact of war on mental health were colossal that narrowed its focus to the first aim, and the latter two aims got buried.
Psychology operated under a “disease model,” where the prime focus was finding out what is “wrong” with people and how to move people from severely depressed to mildly depress.
Martin Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi introduced positive psychology with a refreshingly different perspective. Their positive psychology movement noted that psychology is not just a study of disease, weakness, and damage; it is also the analysis of strengths and virtue.
Treatment is not just fixing what is wrong rather its focus flow is on happiness, personal strengths, wisdom, and creativity. Using scientific tools for mindfulness, gratitude, positivity, compassion and other positive emotions, it helps raise the happiness bar level among individuals.