The Psychology of Positive Thinking

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Those who practice positive psychology attempt psychological interventions that foster positive attitudes toward one's subjective experiences, individual traits, and life events.

Related concepts are happiness , well-being , quality of life , contentment , [13] and meaningful life. According to Seligman and Peterson, positive psychology is concerned with three issues: positive emotions , positive individual traits, and positive institutions. Positive emotions are concerned with being content with one's past, being happy in the present and having hope for the future. Positive individual traits focus on one's strengths and virtues. Finally, positive institutions are based on strengths to better a community of people.

According to Peterson, positive psychologists are concerned with four topics: 1 positive experiences, 2 enduring psychological traits, 3 positive relationships, and 4 positive institutions. While the formal title "positive psychology", referring to a specific discipline within the field of psychology, has only existed for the past two decades [15] the concepts that form the basis of the have been present in religious and philosophical discourse for thousands of years.

The field of psychology predating the use of the term positive psychology has seen researchers who focused primarily on topics that would now be included under the umbrella of positive psychology. From the beginning of psychology, the field has addressed the human experience using the "Disease Model," specifically studying and identifying the dysfunction of an individual. Positive psychology began as a new area of psychology in when Martin Seligman chose it as the theme for his term as president of the American Psychological Association.

The first positive psychology summit took place in The International Positive Psychology Association IPPA is a recently established association that has expanded to thousands of members from 80 different countries. The IPPA's missions include: 1 "further the science of positive psychology across the globe and to ensure that the field continues to rest on this science" 2 "work for the effective and responsible application of positive psychology in diverse areas such as organizational psychology, counselling and clinical psychology, business, health, education, and coaching", 3 "foster education and training in the field".

The field of positive psychology today is most advanced in the United States and Western Europe. Even though positive psychology offers a new approach to the study of positive emotions and behavior, the ideas, theories, research, and motivation to study the positive side of human behavior is as old as humanity. Several humanistic psychologists , most notably Abraham Maslow , Carl Rogers , and Erich Fromm , developed theories and practices pertaining to human happiness and flourishing.

More recently, positive psychologists have found empirical support for the humanistic theories of flourishing.

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In addition, positive psychology has moved ahead in a variety of new directions. In , Diener published his tripartite model of subjective well-being , positing "three distinct but often related components of wellbeing: frequent positive affect, infrequent negative affect, and cognitive evaluations such as life satisfaction ".

Carol Ryff's Six-factor Model of Psychological Well-being was initially published in , and additional testing of its factors was published in It postulates six factors which are key for well-being, namely self-acceptance , personal growth , purpose in life , environmental mastery, autonomy , and positive relations with others.

According to Corey Keyes , who collaborated with Carol Ryff and uses the term flourishing as a central concept, mental well-being has three components, namely hedonic c.

There is no accepted "gold standard" theory in positive psychology, however the work of Seligman is regularly quoted. In Authentic Happiness Seligman proposed three kinds of a happy life which can be investigated: [38] [37]. In Flourish Seligman argued that the last category of his proposed three kinds of a happy life, " meaningful life ", can be considered as 3 different categories. The development of the Character Strengths and Virtues CSV handbook represented the first attempt by Seligman and Peterson to identify and classify positive psychological traits of human beings.

Understanding the Psychology of Positive Thinking

Much like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM of general psychology, the CSV provided a theoretical framework to assist in understanding strengths and virtues and for developing practical applications for positive psychology. This manual identified 6 classes of virtues i. The CSV suggested these 6 virtues have a historical basis in the vast majority of cultures; in addition, these virtues and strengths can lead to increased happiness when built upon. Notwithstanding numerous cautions and caveats, this suggestion of universality hints threefold: 1.


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The study of positive human qualities broadens the scope of psychological research to include mental wellness, 2. Recent research challenged the need for 6 virtues. Instead, researchers suggested the 24 strengths are more accurately grouped into just 3 or 4 categories: Intellectual Strengths, Interpersonal Strengths, and Temperance Strengths [52] or alternatively, Interpersonal Strengths, Fortitude, Vitality, and Cautiousness [53] These strengths, and their classifications, have emerged independently elsewhere in literature on values.

Healing Through Positive Thinking For Your Body

Paul Thagard described examples; these included Jeff Shrager's workshops to discover the habits of highly creative people. In the s Csikszentmihalyi's began studying flow , a state of absorption where one's abilities are well-matched to the demands at-hand. Flow is characterized by intense concentration, loss of self-awareness, a feeling of being perfectly challenged neither bored nor overwhelmed , and a sense that "time is flying".

Flow is intrinsically rewarding; it can also assist in the achievement of goals e. Flow is achieved when the challenge of the situation meets one's personal abilities. A mismatch of challenge for someone of low skills results in a state of anxiety; insufficient challenge for someone highly skilled results in boredom.

Aim for "accurate" and "useful" instead.

Research in positive psychology, well-being, eudaimonia and happiness, and the theories of Diener, Ryff, Keyes and Seligman cover a broad range of topics including "the biological, personal, relational, institutional, cultural, and global dimensions of life". Three to six months after a PPI the effects for subjective well-being and psychological well-being were still significant.


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However the positive effect was weaker than in the meta analysis, the authors concluded that this was because they only used higher quality studies. The PPIs they considered included counting blessings, kindness practices, making personal goals, showing gratitude and focusing on personal strengths. Ilona Boniwell, in her book Positive Psychology in a Nutshell , provided the following summary of the current research.

Wellbeing is related to optimism, extraversion, social connections i. Wellbeing is not related to age, physical attractiveness, money once basic needs are met , gender women are more often depressed but also more often joyful , educational level, having children although they add meaning to life , moving to a sunnier climate, crime prevention, housing and objective health what doctors say. Sonja Lyubomirsky , in her book The How Of Happiness , says that to improve happiness individuals should create new habits; they can seek out new emotions, use variety and timing to prevent hedonic adaptation and enlist others to motivate and support during the creation of those new habits.

In Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness , the authors Compton and Hoffman give the "Top Down Predictors" of wellbeing as high self esteem , optimism , self efficacy , a sense of meaning in life and positive relationships with others.

Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress

The personality traits most associated with well being are extraversion , agreeability and low levels of neuroticism. In the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation , Kreutzer and Mills argue for the principles of positive psychology to be implemented to assist those recovering from traumatic brain injury TBR. They make the case that TBI rehabilitation practices rely on the betterment of the individual through engaging in everyday practices, a practice significantly related to tenets of positive psychology.

According to Kirk Schneider , positive psychology fails to explain past heinous behaviors such as those perpetrated by the Nazi party, Stalinist marches and Klan gatherings, to identify but a few. Furthermore, Schneider pointed to a body of research showing high positivity correlates with positive illusion, which effectively distorts reality. By contrast, negativity, sometimes evidenced in mild to moderate depression, is correlated with less distortion of reality.

Therefore, negativity might play an important role within the dynamics of human flourishing. To illustrate, conflict engagement and acknowledgement of appropriate negativity, including certain negative emotions like guilt, might better promote flourishing. Ian Sample, writing for The Guardian , noted that, "Positive psychologists also stand accused of burying their heads in the sand and ignoring that depressed, even merely unhappy people, have real problems that need dealing with.

Barbara S. Held argued that while positive psychology makes contributions to the field of psychology, it has its faults. She offered insight into topics including the negative side effects of positive psychology, negativity within the positive psychology movement, and the current division in the field of psychology caused by differing opinions of psychologists on positive psychology.

In addition, she noted the movement's lack of consistency regarding the role of negativity. She also raised issues with the simplistic approach taken by some psychologists in the application of positive psychology. A "one size fits all" approach is arguably not beneficial to the advancement of the field of positive psychology; she suggested a need for individual differences to be incorporated into its application. Martin Jack has also maintained that positive psychology is not unique in its optimistic approach to looking at optimal emotional wellbeing, stating that other forms of psychology, such as counselling and educational psychology, are also interested in positive human fulfillment.

He goes on to mention that, while positive psychology has pushed for schools to be more student-centred and able to foster positive self-images in children, he worries that a lack of focus on self-control may prevent children from making full contributions to society. The science of psychology has been far more successful on the negative than on the positive side. It is as if psychology has voluntarily restricted itself to only half its rightful jurisdiction, the darker, meaner half. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

This article is about psychology. For the positive mental attitude, see Optimism. Basic types. Applied psychology. Main article: Well-being.

The beauty of reframing negative self-talk

Main article: Character Strengths and Virtues. Main article: Well-being contributing factors. American Psychologist. Archived from the original PDF on Retrieved New York: McGraw-Hill. The Humanistic Psychologist. University of Pennsylvania, Positive psychology: An introduction pp.

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