• Kirsti Gwynn

What is Positive Psychology?

If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I really love positive psychology. It is my passion in the fullest sense of the word.

Chances are, you’ve heard of psychology, but the concept of positive psychology might be new to you.

So, what is positive psychology?

Let’s start first with what it isn’t…

Positive psychology is not positive thinking.

Despite its simple name, positive psychology is far removed from what you might know as “positive thinking”.

While in positive thinking you might try simply to swap out any negative thoughts for more positive ones (“I can do this!”) positive psychology targets the cause of the negative thoughts so you feel less inclined to have them in the first place.

One of my favourite 10-minutes-a-day exercises, for example, activates the brain’s “hope circuit” and in doing so trains your brain to be, and feel, more optimistic. That means you really believe things will work out more often, so you have less fear… and so fewer fearful, negative thoughts.

But that doesn’t mean positive psychology only targets the positive aspects of the human experience. Not at all.

Positive psychologists have sought to discover what makes “the good life”. Sometimes, the good life includes dealing with challenging obstacles or finding a sense of purpose from negative experiences.

The good life is much more than just lighthearted fun: it’s a positive perspective. A deep sense of inner peace about the fact that life does have inevitable ups and downs, building the resilience to deal with those ups and downs, and a journey of authentic learning and growth.

Surprisingly, “normal” psychology hasn’t been focusing on this.