Positive Psychology and the Science of Happiness

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What is Positive Psychology?
What is the Science of Happiness?
What’s the  Difference?
The Science of Happiness
7 Habits of Happy People

What is Positive Psychology?

  • The term “Positive Psychology”  was originally coined by the psychologist Abraham Maslow in the 1950’s.
  • Maslow used the term somewhat loosely to call for a more balanced view of human nature, that is, to draw attention to human potentialities as well as mental illness. The upbeat work of “humanistic” psychologists such as Carl Rogers as well as Maslow have served as a wellspring of ideas for the new field of Positive Psychology.
  • In 2002, Martin Seligman, previously President of the American Psychological Association, popularized the expression Positive Psychology through his influential work “Authentic Happiness.” He defined it as the study of positive emotions and the “strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive.”
  • In his second best-seller, “Flourish,” Seligman expanded his vision of human well-being based on five components, known by the acronym PERMA, including Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment.

What is the Science of Happiness?

  • The Science of Happiness, the scientific study of “what makes happy people happy,” was arguably launched by Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi in the late 1980’s.
  • Czikszentmihalyi pioneered the “Experience Sampling Method” to discover what he called the “psychology of optimal experience,” and specifically, the experience of Flow.
  • The Science of Happiness is now picking up speed, with scientists from around the globe exploring the neuroscience of happiness as well as the psychology of well-being.
  • The measurement of happiness has consequently become a major focus of the new science, with many scales presently being used depending on how “happiness” is defined.

How is Positive Psychology related to the Science of Happiness?

the neuroscience of happiness
  • Positive Psychology could be regarded as a subset within the broader field we call the Science of Happiness, which extends to the natural as well as the social sciences.
  • Positive Psychology is traditionally focused on the study of positive emotions and “signature strengths,” and more recently on related areas such as intimate relationships and the discovery of meaning.
  • The Science of Happiness extends beyond the psychological sciences, for example, to such areas as the impact of exercise and nutrition on psychological well-being, or the effect of social media on happiness.

The Science of Happiness

happiness scientistOn the internet and in bookstores, a thousand gurus tout different remedies for human misery. How can we find out which remedies work? We need to consult one of our greatest gurus, the scientific method. Recently we have seen a dramatic upsurge in scientific studies on Positive Psychology and the science of happiness or to put it simply, discovering what makes happy people happy. Fortunately, many of these studies point to specific ways of thinking and acting that can strongly impact our sense of happiness and peace of mind.

If you would prefer to explore the Science of Happiness through videos and fun quizzes, try our free Introductory Mini Course. If not, keep reading!

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