When most people think of psychology they think of a mentally ill person laying on a couch having his psyche dissected by Freudian-type person who asks a lot of questions about the patient’s mother.
Well, to be sure there is still some of that kind of therapy going on, but psychology has changed quite a bit since Freud and Jung. Much of the emphasis on modern psychology is still diagnosis and treatment of mental illness.
However, another approach that focuses less on treating mental illness, and more on improving healthy people’s lives, and keeping them healthy, is gaining popularity. This school of psychology is known as positive psychology.
If you have read much of my blog, or those of the hundreds of other personal development bloggers out there in the blogosphere, you have most likely been exposed to positive psychology. Indeed, if you have read any of the popular self-help books, you already know what positive psychology is about.
What are some examples of positive psychology?
Positive psychology is not just about making people “feel good,” (although I would argue there is some value in that alone). It is about preparing people mentally and emotionally to live happy, successful, and fulfilling lives.
A good example of positive psychology at work is teaching people the value of introspection, mindfulness, and reframing to enable them to react appropriately to life’s challenges, or to align their actions and values. Some of these same techniques are used to treat mental illness such as depression and anxiety, but can also be effectively applied to healthy people to help them better their lives.
Techniques such as NLP, hypnosis, and even clinical practices such as cognitive-behavioral therapies are also very useful when applied in the context of positive psychology.
Teaching people stress relief methods, or other forms of self-care such as the importance of exercise, relaxation, and a healthy diet are also forms of positive psychology. Other forms of positive psychology include helping people focus on their successes, teaching them to learn from failure, and how to make criticism work in their favor.
As you can see, the possibilities are limitless.
An emphasis on positive psychology can make serious improvements in your life, and in the lives of others around you. This does not mean that there is no place for other forms of psychology. The reality is that there is a lot of trauma out there in the real world, and modern psychology has developed some very effective treatments to help people overcome their challenges with mental illness. However, it’s important to realize that psychology is not just for the sick. It can benefit us all.