About Positive Psychology

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of optimal human performance and flourishing. In contrast to other disciplines of psychology, positive psychology asks - 'What's right?', not 'What's wrong?', and focuses on interventions and strategies which increase what is right. It is underpinned by the belief that it is possible to influence our psychological well-being and performance by deliberately taking actions to influence our mindset, attitudes and emotions.

Fundamental to Positive Psychology is the idea that everyone has innate or natural strengths which can be developed on built upon, and that it is generally more productive to spend time building on strengths rather than focusing on 'fixing' weaknesses. Positive Psychology is often described as the Psychology of the life worth living, in other words a fundamental belief of Psychologists is that, as far as is possible, life and work should contribute towards a sense of purpose and meaning. Being a scientific field, Positive Psychology is concerned with research and the practical applications of it. There is now a convincing body of research which demonstrates that increases in positive emotions, meaning and purpose significantly improve both well-being and performance.

Positive Psychology is not 'Positive thinking', or the belief that one should exist in a permanent state of happiness, but the belief that it is possible to influence our general experience of emotions towards being more positive. People who practice Positive Psychology, still have bad days, still experience emotional pain and still have ups and downs. By taking positive actions they are able to shift their emotions gradually towards the positive. Many of the strategies and interventions put forward by Positive Psychologists are easy to implement and relatively simplistic incremental changes. This is what makes Positive Psychology so useful - almost everyone can do it and benefit from doing it.

At a organisational level, Positive Psychologists study positive organisations and the conditions required in an organisation to create organisational flourishing. The dynamics of positive emotions within teams, positive interactions between colleagues and the benefit of a growth mindset are all important factors in creating businesses and organisations where every employee is engaged, works to their strengths towards a common aim and feels valued. Psychological factors are well established as a much more reliable indicator of careers success than raw IQ or technical skills and are the key to unlocking hidden potential in employees and colleagues.

Further Reading
Boniwell., I (2006), Positive Psychology in an Nutshell: The Science of Happiness, London, McGraw Hill