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Positive psychology – about thinking positively?

No, positive psychology is not just about thinking positively. Sometimes it is can actually be about thinking negatively, or perhaps recognizing the meaning of negative feelings. The easy commercial approach to this area of research is primarily a result of the focus in media and non-academic short cuts to headlines that sell. So what is positive psychology all about?

Positive psychology can be defined as the scientific study of what makes a good life (the good life, a life worth living, what makes us happy). In this exists the idea that the good life is much more than feeling good – it has to do with also being able to function well. To be well functioning means striving to overcome challenge, to go outside of your comfort zone, and to be in a state of learning and developing.

Historically, all psychology has a tradition of being illness oriented and builds on a medical model where one starts with the problem, diagnoses the person, and treats them. Positive psychology is founded on moving focus from vulnerability and illness, to human strengths and resources. This is not an alternative to the traditional approach, but is a complimentary perspective. Positive psychology is not its own academic discipline, but it is a perspective we can apply in a variety of disciplines, for example in development psychology, organizational psychology, sport, or in care for the elderly.

Positive psychology is not new. The term was first introduced by Maslow in 1954, where he highlighted the need for a larger focus on human strengths and resources and the meaning of positive experiences and personal growth. In 1998 the term was re-launched by Martin Seligman when he, as the newly elected president of the American Psychological Association, founded a new strategical goal which was to expand psychology’s path and choose to put focus on the pursuit of happiness and the good life.

The interest for positive psychology has increased enormously in the last decades, both within psychological research and otherwise in society. This massive interest has generated new knowledge both within theory and practical methods, and we have seen an increase in how this research gives psychology a larger practical use in the work between individuals, organizations, and society at large.

MIND: is interested in human strengths and resources, and what it takes in order for humans to function at their best. MIND: has a highly qualified foundation in this academic field, and our concepts and services are built on our own or recent research in positive psychology. We also collaborate with several researchers internationally.

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