Traditionally, psychology has been focused on problems and dysfunction.
Positive psychology is a relatively new school of thought. In a positive psychology approach, there is a focus on (a) strengths as well as weaknesses, and on (b) building on personal assets and character as well as repairing psychological damage and fixing problems. With a focus on strengths and resilience, people are able to thrive and to achieve a sense of greater fulfillment.
Several years of intensive scientific research have lent much credibility to ideas which, until now, were mere popular opinion. For example, there is now scientific proof that the following practices can contribute to greater emotional resilience, health and fulfillment:
- Flow (being completely absorbed in fulfilling work or another engaging and meaningful activity)
- Mindfulness (being fully engaged in the present moment, without trying to force change)
Positive Psychology has three central concerns: positive emotions, positive individual characteristics, and positive institutions. Understanding positive emotions involves examining areas of contentment with the past, happiness in the present, and hope for the future. Understanding positive individual characteristics involves identifying strengths and personal assets, such as the capacity for love and work, courage, compassion, resilience, creativity, curiosity, integrity, self-knowledge, moderation, self-control, and wisdom.
Including a positive psychology approach in therapy increases hopefulness and a sense of well-being, which in turn result in quicker and more lasting change.