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Positive Psychology In Practice



In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.




Positive psychology in practice


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People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. They can apply it to the past (retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of childhood or past blessings), the present (not taking good fortune for granted as it comes), and the future (maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude). Regardless of the inherent or current level of someone's gratitude, it's a quality that individuals can successfully cultivate further.


One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.


Another leading researcher in this field, Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions on 411 people, each compared with a control assignment of writing about early memories. When their week's assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. This impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.


Other studies have looked at how being grateful can improve relationships. For example, a study of couples found that individuals who took time to express gratitude for their partner not only felt more positive toward the other person but also felt more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship.


Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier or thinking they can't feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.


In addition to exploring strategies for enhancing personal well-being, students also examine applications of positive psychology in a variety of professional settings including business, education, healthcare, and the nonprofit sector.


Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman, a leading authority in the field of positive psychology, and director of the Penn Positive Psychology Center, developed the PERMA model to understand well-being. This model details five basic building blocks for a healthy sense of well-being: positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment.


A companion course for Positive Psychology, this practicum focuses on the application of positive psychology concepts, theories, and interventions in a Danish context. The aim is the development of professional skills such as observation, interviewing, and interventions within the field, by being placed in one of a variety of organizations. The benefits and challenges of applying positive psychology in diverse settings are explored.


This course is made up of classes and practicum visits. At the practicum sites, you will observe and engage in positive psychology applications under the guidance of a supervising staff member for a required total of 30 hours throughout the semester. Shadowing a trained psychologist is not included in the practicum.


Some detractors have criticized Positive Psychology as being intentionally oblivious to stark realities. And though Seligman ventures into the area of pleasure and gratification through his research in the area of positive emotion, there is much more to his work beyond this. In his study of the Good Life (cultivating strengths and virtues) and the Meaningful Life (developing meaning and purpose), positive psychology seeks to help people acquire the skills to be able to deal with the stuff of life in ever fuller, deeper ways.


Born in 1942, Seligman is credited as the father of Positive Psychology and its efforts to scientifically explore human potential. In Authentic Happiness (2002), he explains that his journey towards this new field in psychology started off in a study on learned helplessness in dogs.


Each kind of happiness is linked to positive emotion but from his quote, you can see that in his mind there is a progression from the first type of happiness of pleasure/gratification to strengths/virtues and finally meaning/purpose.


In short, positive emotions are frequently paired with happy circumstances. And while we might be tempted to assume that happiness causes positive emotions, Seligman wonders, instead, whether positive emotions cause happiness. If so, what does this mean for our life and our happiness?


In positive psychology, researchers try to understand how human beings can lead healthy, happy, and fulfilling lives. Positive psychology differs from traditional psychology which has mostly focused on problems, such as mental illness and abnormalities.


Researchers in positive psychology believe that happiness can be broken down into three different dimensions that can be improved. These dimensions are the "pleasant life", "meaningful life", and "good life". Each of these dimensions can contribute to a person's sense of well-being.


A person does not need to excel in all three categories to experience positive well-being. For example, someone might not appear overtly happy or bubbly, but they may feel a deep sense of contentment with their life because they have developed meaning.


The study of how humans thrive, find happiness, and flourish fits neatly with psychotherapy. Positive psychology changes the perspective of treatment. Rather than trying to decrease or eliminate sadness, it instead focuses on increasing happiness and well-being.


Traditional psychotherapy focuses on achieving moderate mental health. With positive psychology, you will work to achieve a flourishing mental state. Instead of going from -6 to 0 on a scale of depression to happiness, you will be going from 0 to +6.


A gratitude journal will force you to put positive and negative experiences into perspective. Instead of ending each day with thoughts of what went wrong, you'll spend a few minutes thinking about what went right. Additionally, a gratitude journal will get you in the habit of noticing positive experiences as they happen, and giving them more attention.


Positive relationships are one of the best predictors of happiness and well-being. Many of us have people in our lives who we cherish and appreciate, but we don't take the time to spell out the reasons why. Some of us might have people from our past who have positively impacted our lives, yet they have no idea.


Some ideas are buying a cup of coffee for a stranger, helping a friend paint their house, offering directions to someone who looks lost, giving a friend a ride to the airport, or helping someone carry heavy groceries to their car. It might be difficult to recognize opportunities for acts of kindness at first, but you'll improve with practice.


Disclaimer: The resources available on Therapist Aid do not replace therapy, and are intended to be used by qualified professionals. Professionals who use the tools available on this website should not practice outside of their own areas of competency. These tools are intended to supplement treatment, and are not a replacement for appropriate training.


Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living, focusing on both individual and societal well-being.[1] It studies "positive subjective experience, positive individual traits, and positive institutions...it aims to improve quality of life."[2] It is a field of study that has been growing steadily throughout the years as individuals and researchers look for common ground on better well-being.[3]


Positive psychology began as a new domain of psychology in 1998 when Martin Seligman chose it as the theme for his term as president of the American Psychological Association.[4][5][6] It is a reaction against past practices, which have tended to focus on mental illness and emphasized maladaptive behavior and negative thinking. It builds on the humanistic movement by Abraham Maslow, Rollo May, James Bugental, and Carl Rogers, which encourages an emphasis on happiness, well-being, and positivity, thus creating the foundation for what is now known as positive psychology.[6]


Positive psychology focuses on eudaimonia, an Ancient Greek term for "the good life" and the concept for reflection on the factors that contribute the most to a well-lived and fulfilling life. Positive psychologists often use the terms subjective well-being and happiness interchangeably.[7]


Positive psychologists have suggested a number of factors may contribute to happiness and subjective well-being. For example, social ties with a spouse, family, friends, colleagues, and wider networks; membership in clubs or social organizations; physical exercise; and the practice of meditation.[8] Spirituality can also be considered a factor that leads to increased individual happiness and well-being. Spiritual practice and religious commitment is a topic researchers have been studying as another possible source for increased well-being and an added part of positive psychology.[9] Happiness may rise with increasing financial income, though it may plateau or even fall when no further gains are made or after a certain cut-off amount.[10]


Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi define positive psychology as "the scientific study of positive human functioning and flourishing on multiple levels that include the biological, personal, relational, institutional, cultural, and global dimensions of life."[1] 041b061a72


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