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Positive Psychology

What is Positive Psychology?

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of wellbeing. It compliments traditional theories of mental health by acknowledging that it’s not only important to address or fix problems, but also emphasize strengths (what’s good in a person), what makes life worth living, and what helps people flourish. Positive Psychology focuses on what can be added to create a life that is satisfying and meaningful. Positive Psychology focuses on concepts like gratitude, optimism, happiness and other positive emotions, resilience, forgiveness, mindfulness, compassion, altruism, and self-determination.

The five pillars of Positive Psychology, the PERMA model:

  1. Positive emotions and pleasure: Feeling good, experiencing more pleasure than pain, e.g., joy, interest, warmth, comfort.
  2. Engagement: Slipping into a state of flow where you’re fully absorbed in an activity that uses your strengths and talents.
  3. Relationships: Cultivating positive relationships with others, e.g., feeling close, that others are reliable.
  4. Meaning: Belonging to or serving something larger than yourself, e.g., being part of a sports team, caring for animals or other people, joining a group like Toastmasters or girl guides, recycling, or supporting a charity, religious group, or political party.
  5. Accomplishment: Achievement for its own sake.  Having mastery over your environment, and pursuing accomplishment for the sake of accomplishment, e.g., getting good grades at school, achieving success at work, learning new things for the sake of learning, performing feats of strength or artistry.

Is Positive Psychology a type of CBT?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) emphasizes the reciprocal relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, and tends to focus on correcting patterns of unhelpful ways of thinking and decreasing symptoms such as anxiety or depression. Positive Psychology is completely compatible with CBT, its like the flip side of the coin. Positive Psychology looks at what’s already good in a person, how to capitalize on strengths, and how to cultivate positive emotions.