Positive psychology is among one of the most transformative concepts ever introduced in science. It is grounded in the premise that positive facets of human life are some of the most important aspects of an individual’s wellbeing, consequently contributing to their overall happiness and success. As a rule of thumb, positive psychology operates by acknowledging the importance of optimal human functioning as a key factor enabling individuals and communities to flourish. Psychology has often highlighted the inadequacies of the human condition in a bid to bring about positive change. Conversely, the discipline of positive psychology ignores individual’s faults and accentuates their potential as a new progressive strategy.
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Leading voices in the field such as Barbara Fredrickson, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Christopher Peterson are acutely aware of the correlation between human faults and a downward spiral towards an existential cruxes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), suicide is one of the fastest growing global trends that now accounts for 800,000 deaths annually (“Suicide across the world (2018)”). Thus, positive psychology seeks to raise awareness to overlooked realities as a rejoinder against viewing mental illness through the lens of psychoanalysis and in favor of a maladaptive comportment. An emphasis on positivity and overall happiness is therefore a major focus of positive psychology, in addition to serving as a foundation for its core principles. An in-depth evaluation of positive psychology is, hence, necessary to highlight the primary reasons why it upholds human welfare.
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One the main reasons why positive psychology is ranked as one of the most innovative scientific practices ever applied in the field is its pre-occupation with eudemonia. Living a good life according to one’s definition is a critical aspect of fulfillment in the pursuit of happiness. The focus here is on an individual experiencing what is commonly referred to as “the good life” by engaging in activities that make their existence uniquely meaningful. An ideal starting point towards the attainment of this state is becoming aware of one’s signature strengths as highlighted by Martin Seligman (Hefferon and Boniwell 45). Activities that can be undertaken with ease are a significant aspect of positive psychology since they have been found to mark the onset of realistic satisfaction and abundant gratification.
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By so doing, positive psychology bolsters research on aspects of positive human development in a manner that provides a holistic outlook when exploring what it means to be wholly fulfilled. In addition to this, positive psychology avoids the scholarly trap of focusing only on a specific mental disorder and its manifestations which has often been blamed for the limited understanding that it subsequently breeds. Living a fulfilling life, in the fashion of positive psychology, includes aspects such as self-actualization and self-esteem, which were previously been ignored when determining what made for a happy life. Setting goals with the aim of creating a future positive outcome was identified by Seligman as important aspects of positive psychology that resulted in high productivity (Lopez and Snyder). Positive psychology, therefore, heralded focus on psychological interventions that were tailored to an individual’s experience as a way of encouraging optimism in life.
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Positive psychology also thrives and is applicable in our contemporary setting due to a wide array of topics that it merges when seeking to explore dimensions of life connected to fulfillment. In particular, the biological, cultural, relational and global scopes of life have been cited as fundamental features when assessing human well-being. Leading positive psychologists such as Albert Bandura contend that it is an approach that now plays a monumental role in promoting an individual’s overall wellbeing, even including an increase in their financial income (Linley and Joseph). Moreover, positive psychology introduces three different levels from which it operates from. These include the subjective, individual and group level. Firstly, the subjective level encompasses positive experiences such as happiness and contentment attainable by every individual. Individuals are encouraged to remain optimistic and harness positive feelings as opposed to focusing on being a “good person”. Secondly, the individual level identifies the ingredients of a “good life” in addition to aspects that need to be considered with this regard. Personal qualities are necessary in this level since it focuses on abilities such as courage and love that are essential when defining someone as a good person. Thirdly, the group level lays emphasis on the importance of social responsibilities, work ethics and social responsibilities in an individual’s quest for happiness. These factors are instrumental when seeking to develop functioning communities where individuals are aware of the role they play in the grand scheme of events. The use of these levels together with the disease model ultimately made sure that psychological illnesses such as anxiety attacks and depression previously thought to be incurable could now be treated.
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The introduction of positive psychology in the field also had far-reaching consequences for the discipline owing to the positive changes that were introduced. Its primary mode of operation was by complimenting traditional psychology which increasingly faced new challenges requiring immediate change. Traditional psychology usually focused on the dysfunction in an individual’s life. Based on this initial assessment, a psychologist would then give their diagnosis of what exactly ails an individual before prescribing medicine to manage the condition. Positive psychology introduced a third element where a medical practitioner could now provide workable tools to their patients as they endeavor to attain normalcy (Lopez and Snyder 23). Patients who adhere to the advice provided eventually acknowledge its effectiveness as a technique whose main purpose is to improve their quality of life. Additionally, positive psychology has been hailed for emboldening commitment to health. For instance, individuals with typical mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety attacks are encouraged to look past negative experiences while improving their lives through goal setting. Focusing on an individual’s personal strengths has also been found to promote enthusiasm for life and the development of resilience in the face of hardships. Similarly, positive psychology also encourages forming positive relationships as a positive step towards attaining happiness. Building fulfilling relationships with friends and family goes a long way in promoting a practical way of living. Another constructive aspect of positive psychology is that it influences a community’s overall well-being. It teaches community members to always take care of their counterparts when tragedy strikes, creating a tight bond while avoiding internal divisions.
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In conclusion, positive psychology focuses on positive aspects of an individual’s well-being with happiness and success being the final objective. Its relative popularity has been linked to a fixation on living a good life, an exploration of a wide array of dimensions of life and a progressive mode of operation combined with traditional psychology. Positive psychology is, thus, responsible for introducing a pioneering scientific discipline directed at individual’s overall well-being.
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