We have heard it many times that your life’s happiness depends on the quality of your thoughts. Whether at an individual or global level, happiness has been a human pursuit for as long as we can remember. Positive psychology has taken this notion into the realm of scientific research in the hope of gaining a better understanding of meaningful living and overall well-being.
What is Positive Psychology?
Positive psychology is a specific field within the study of psychology that studies and promotes happiness and well-being. To put it simply- positive psychology is a scientific study of what makes life most worth living. The idea is to study human thoughts, behavior, and feelings, in terms of how each can be adjusted to give a better life. Whether you are struggling in your life or doing well, you can put positive psychology into practice and reap the benefits.
A brief history of Positive Psychology
The theory behind positive psychology was defined in 1998 by Martin Seligman. His research on what is now known as ‘learned helplessness’ opened the door to positive psychology. The theory of ‘learned helplessness’ says that we can learn to become helpless, and we feel that we have no control over what happens with us.
Martin Seligman saw the need to focus on positive since many in the field of psychology focused only on the pain, trauma, mental illness, and suffering. The concept of well-being, happiness, and flourishing was not discussed much. So after getting elected in 1998 as the President of the American Psychological Association, he proposed an innovative approach to psychology centered on the good in life-positive psychology.
The importance of positive thinking
Practitioners in the field of positive psychology gain insights from people who have a positive outlook and help others achieve a state of happiness. Positive thinking is just one aspect of psychology. When people surround themselves with a good lifestyle and material possessions, it may seem that it leads to happiness. However, how one really feels is governed by what goes on inside their head. So when you go out of the way to think positively, you encapsulate yourself from negativity.
Negative thinking or negative self-talk is one of the biggest barriers to positive thinking. People become so used to negative self-talk that their conscious mind pulls them down, even when there is nothing wrong. As a result, such people become insecure, indecisive, and overly-apologetic. What is worse- they open their doors for various stress-related problems.
Scientific studies have shown that there is a direct link between the human immune system and stress. When a person experiences a period of negativity and stress, his or her body’s inflammatory response to attacks from viruses and bacteria is reduced. This results in an elevated risk of catching infections such as cold sores and the common cold. Therefore, having a positive outlook in life can equip people better for dealing with illness.
However, it is crucial to keep in mind that merely having a positive outlook won’t stop any bad things happening in your life. But it does give you the strength to deal better with such situations. For some people, positive thinking comes naturally, while for others seeking professional help is necessary.
The benefits of practicing Positive Psychology
Practicing positive psychology can have many benefits such as-
- Boost in self-esteem
- Higher productivity
- Change in perspective
- Improved relationships
- Increased success
The application of positive psychology can teach you the importance of your perspective. By simply adopting a positive mindset or being a little more optimistic can go a long way. Wherever possible, try and infuse a little positivity in your life for a healthy living.
How to train your brain for happiness
According to various researches, it has been found out that at birth, our genetics provides us with a happiness set point. This accounts for about 40 percent, and another 10 percent is from having shelter, enough food, and safety. This means that 50 percent is already there with us. Doing exercises like to think happier, having an optimistic outlook, and more resilience can help us train our brains for happiness.
The new discoveries made in positive psychology show that psychological well-being, physical health, and physiological functioning can all be improved by learning to feel good.
We live in times when the conditions of happiness are unknown, and with so much negativity around, we often succumb to hardships of life. However, we need to understand that happiness is not out there for us to find; it’s inside us.