Positive psychology is not about being happy all of the time
Let’s be clear, positive psychology does not recommend happiness at all costs, nor to always think positive.
Life is made of tragedy and adversity. Happiness is not linear. It is impossible to be happy all of the time. All of our emotions have their place and are legitimate. Sadness helps us turn a chapter; joy to connect with others and move forward. There is no good or bad emotion. What counts above all, is what we do with it.
Positive psychology is a science
Positive psychology is a science. “Positive psychology is the scientific study of optimal human functioning. It aims to discover and promote the factors that allow individuals and communities to thrive.” Martin Seligman (2002).
Unlike traditional psychology, it focuses on what is right with the human being. It states that health is not the absence of illness, that being in good health does not guarantee self-fulfillment… and that happiness is actually much more than just the absence of misfortune!
Positive psychology looks for answers to questions like: Who are those individuals that function well? Why do they function so well? What differentiates happy people from others? What differentiates a resilient child from another?
To answer these questions, for the last twenty years, researchers in positive psychology have conducted serious scientific studies to identify what are those factors that allow us to blossom. And the good news is that well-being is accessible to everyone.
Happiness is a legitimate goal
Discussing happiness is such a trendy subject, that sometimes we do not take it seriously. However, as Sonja Lyubormirsky, positive psychology professor at the University of California, says: “Happiness constitute a serious, legitimate and worthy goal.” Cultivating your happiness is neither ridiculous nor naïve.
To flourish has a lot of benefits. Compared to others, happy people are largely more social, active, creative, cooperative, productive and are more confident. It has been demonstrated that happy people have a better immune system and live longer. In addition, happiness is contagious. It also benefits the persons around happy people: their spouses, families, colleagues and communities.
What does positive psychology offer us?
Positive psychology offers tools and techniques, scientifically tested, to help us increase our level of well-being. They are simple and free. Sometimes so simple, that we might be skeptical. The difficulty remains more in their application and practice.
Why don’t we all apply them? Because increasing our level of well-being requires effort, constancy and an active daily investment… like practicing a sport, mastering a language or a musical instrument.
The goal is not to be happy, but to cultivate happiness or to train our happiness muscle… and maintain it. I will speak about these tools all along my next blog postings... because working on our personal and professional flourishing is probably the best investment we might make in our life!
Your reactions, comments and questions are always welcome!
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