For the past few years, psychology’s major concerns were on the aspects of diagnosing mental illness and treating them effectively with care. But the current perspective of the psychological concepts focuses on the well-being of people and what makes people’s living worthy and positive. This field of psychology is just a decade old with its roots from the ancient philosophies and modern humanistic perspectives but its implications are of much use to the general society. With great efforts and emphasis put forth from his point of view to spread this new field of the subject, Martin Seligman is therefore considered as the father of positive psychology.
Henceforth, to close by the part of defining positive psychology, it is the study and research on topics like,
- Subjective well-being.
These various aspects of the person are possible for study as the past, present, and the future living. There exist three nodes to differentiate the well-being in various stages as,
- SUBJECTIVE NODE- A person’s experiences.
- INDIVIDUAL NODE- Focus upon good characteristics of a person
- GROUP NODE- Studying positive institutions and communities like altruism.
BASIC CONCEPTS IMPORTANT IN POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY:
THE UNIVERSAL VIRTUES:
Peterson and Seligman, through their extensive researches, had concluded that there exist twenty-four virtues and is segregated as in six major sections of positive psychology, and they are namely temperance, transcendence, courage, humanity, justice and knowledge/wisdom. These six aspects are accepted from various cultures of the globe. Each positive virtue mentioned above varies with degrees in people. When the person knows his or her strength upon any one of the six virtues then he or she feels intelligent and easily excels in any particular field. People ultimately feel empowered from their strengths upon these virtues. Therefore, the path to happiness, grit, competence, flow, and well-being all have the initial point from any one of the virtue.
THE 24 UNIVERSAL VIRTUES OF PETERSON AND SELIGMAN
- WISDOM: creativity; love of learning; judgment; perspective; curiosity.
- COURAGE: honesty; bravery; persistence; zest.
- HUMANITY: social intelligence; love; kindness.
- TRANSCENDENCE: hope; gratitude; humour; appreciation of beauty; spirituality.
- JUSTICE: leadership; teamwork; fairness.
- MODERATION: prudence; self-control; forgiveness; modesty.
WHAT IS PERMA THEORY?
According to Seligman the purpose, or meaning of a happy positive life entitles under the views of PERMA. The acronym stands for positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishments. These factors are categorized based upon the contribution to well-being, pursing upon one’s own sake, and everything is measured independently. This is one of the important basic concepts among positive psychology which is also called the Seligman’s learning theory.
INITIAL THEORY OR THE AUTHENTIC HAPPINESS THEORY:
Authentic Happiness Theory is very important and an effective theory for any person studying positive psychology to know about it. Experiences of people like that of happiness are felt at different situations like that of a pleasant life, the engaged life, and the meaningful life. The pleasant life seeks for gaining happiness with simple steps, and effort is very less here. For example, eating ice cream as you like and feeling joyful about it. On the other hand, the engaged life is denoted by the flow. Flow is the experience of losing yourself and getting concentrated upon the activity done. The example of a girl being so involved in her drawing can be stated. The meaningful life thrives upon being so much engaged in a given activity and then later still feeling numb with the presence of feelings of a void. For example, a boy who played basketball for long hours and later feeling neutral or even low about the time and energy spent on playing the game. Later on, this theory was criticized for its goal of seeking happiness and modified lately as the well-being theory by Seligman; where the greatest focus is upon the attainment of the well-being of the human.
One of the most fundamental questions and earlier unsolved debates of positive psychology is how one can measure the levels of happiness. So many rigorous scientific tests and experiments were made to answer the questions that are impossible to get a solution by psychologists and scientists. The subjects under positive psychology are just as a basic science and not a self-help tool or technique to measure components like happiness and joy. The positivist’s epistemological studies and scientific paradigms were the basis for certain theories and concepts in positive psychology. So the exact way of calling it as a proper science and considering it in contexts like measurement of feelings and emotions is not practical or up to the expectation of a science resource. The methods are objective and adjunctive, in the sense they provide knowledge and information only about data that is actually collected in the fields. Since you are tending to measure only “happiness” in general then it is not a valid measure as you are reducing the frame of the construct and cannot rely upon only a few variables on happiness for getting the correct and reliable result. But there are few approaches one can enter to measure the level of happiness;
- Biologically, one can measure happiness with the levels of hormones and certain neurotransmitters like serotonin of a person.
- Behaviourally, measuring happiness is possible through specific physical behaviours like frequency of laughing, helping levels of people and levels of smiling.
- Sometimes it is even possible to rate happiness by asking their peers. Example, asking the parents of a child to observe and rate the child’s joy and happiness.
- Subjectively, asking the individual to write or fill out self-report measure of happiness for a specific event or in general terms in their life. Example, measuring joy of a man for the past six months.
Though these measures are not up to the levels of reliability, still for little evidence like checking the level of depression in an individual, these methods are useful in its own ways!
Resilience is one of the most powerful features of positive mind. It is the process of getting back to things after few miseries or tragedies in any environment. Basically speaking, it is a bouncing-phenomenon after adversities and failures. Resilience is not a trait that is present in someone; rather it is the point of positive strength after major traumas and is learned through actions, behaviours and other modelling norms. Resilience is an important component of positive psychology, since people get to know more about themselves at times of crisis and later they will have the power and capacities to manage any emotional or physical problem in life! For example, a person getting back to work with full charisma and energy, after suffering through major depression.
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the Father of Flow in positive psychology states that flow is the actual involvement of someone into something or situation at present. It is the individual state of completely immersing oneself into some activity for their personal sake. Your every skill and actions that are continuously linked with one another, are what is defined as Flow. For example, a woman sincerely painting some scenery while seeing it through a window is basically flow.
Mindfulness is the state of being immensely maintaining each moment with full of complete awareness of bodily sensations, your thoughts, self-feelings, and other related behaviours. Mindfulness when practiced regularly by all gives a sense of relaxation and enjoyment of the self in the present as it is and not considering anything about the past or future. For example, a man typing his records in a computer without thinking or judging anything as right or wrong in an office setup.
Gratitude is a very significant and the most positive component present in an individual. Gratitude is basically giving thanks or appreciating the self in general in terms which are tangible or not tangible. This is basically sincere appreciation or applause giving action for something rewarding. Gratitude is deeper forms of generosity since you tend to show your deepest positive emotion to someone as a gift for some achievement. For example, a friend gifting his best friend a gift with thanks card, for helping him study for his examinations.
REAL-LIFE APPLICATIONS FROM POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY
Optimal functioning is the basic need for any species to survive and for humans the focus is in part of various aspects like social, cultural, emotional, and a lot more. So speaking in terms of positive psychology, the values can be beneficial in terms of self-development and boost our levels of confidence.
- Showing gratitude is a buffer for so many negative aspects like that of envy, jealousy, pride, etc. Hence, the person who shows gratitude is generally more helpful, happier than compared to others and is hopeful for the future prospects.
- Your general well-being will improve and develop into a healthy one, which in turn boosts you up for any stressful situation and helps in better coping mechanisms automatically, after programming and conditioning.
- The person’s general self, that is, how one shows emotions and regulates positivity externally to others, will be greatly harnessed from the values from the very theories of positivity in positive psychology.
- Positive psychology is also very much useful for the general mental health of a person which can be attributed as in good or optimum levels; this, in turn, will help the individual to balance with the maintenance of their physical health.
- In short, psychotherapy and other psychological values make an ill person improve and function well. But positive psychology has the power to make people feel happy about themselves, their surroundings and peers around them!
- Resilience, the most important part of a person’s psychological strength, will be eventually building up with learning visions from positive psychology, and he or she can bounce back from stress and failure effectively in their lives.
“AUTHENTIC HAPPINESS COMES BY RAISING BARS BY YOURSELF, NOT RATING YOURSELF AGAINST OTHERS.”