WHAT THE SCIENCE OF POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY TEACHES US ABOUT HAPPINESS
Positive Psychology sounds very enticing but not many are familiar with what it actually deals with and how we can bring about positive changes by introducing it in our lives.
“Positive psychology is the branch of psychology that uses scientific understanding and effective intervention to aid in the achievement of a satisfactory life, rather than merely treating mental illness.”
This branch of psychology focuses on the behaviours that allow individuals to build a life of meaning and purpose and to move beyond surviving to actually flourishing. Theorists and researchers in the field have sought to identify the elements of a good life, proposing tested practices for improving life satisfaction and well-being.
Positive psychology gives us the power to shift our perspective towards maximizing the potential for happiness in our everyday behaviours. Changing our outlook towards the little things in life can bring about a big change in our life, therefore let us look at the following:
1. People often overestimate the impact of money on their happiness. It does have some influence, but not as much as we might think, so focusing less on attaining wealth will likely make you happier. (Aknin, Norton, & Dunn, 2009)
2. Spending money on experiences provides a bigger boost to happiness than spending money on material possessions. (Howell & Hill, 2009)
3. Gratitude is a big contributor to our happiness which suggests that the more we practice gratitude, the happier we will be. (Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005)
4. Oxytocin provokes greater trust, empathy, and morality in humans, which means that giving hugs and acts of physical affection may give you a big boost to your overall well-being. (Barraza & Zak, 2009)
5. Those who intentionally cultivate a positive mood to match the outward emotion they need to display benefit by more genuinely experiencing the positive mood. Pretending to be happy will not help you, but putting a little effort to be happy likely will. (Scott & Barnes, 2011)
6. Happiness is contagious, hence surrounding yourself with happy friends and significant others make a person happier. (Fowler & Christakis, 2008)
7. People who perform acts of kindness towards others get a boost in their well-being. (Layous, Nelson, Oberle, Schonert-Reichl, & Lyubomirsky, 2012)
8. Volunteering your time to a cause you believe in improves your well-being and life satisfaction. (Jenkinson, 2013)
9. However, any encroachment of negative emotions or outlooks will not help you reach success. An important finding from positive psychology research is that forcing people who are not naturally optimists to ‘just think positively’ can do more harm than good; unrealistic optimism is detrimental, along with intense pessimism. (del Valle & Mateos, 2008; Dillard, Midboe, & Klein, 2009)
Studies in the field have found out that Positive Psychology helps us in the workplace too:
1. Positive emotions boost our job performance.
2. Positive emotions in the workplace are contagious, which means one positive person can have a ripple effect that extends through the entire organization.
3. Small actions can have a big impact on our happiness, which means that it doesn’t take much to encourage your workplace to become a happier and more positive place. (Kjerulf, 2016)
4. Feeling happy and experiencing positive emotions increases our chances of success. (Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005)
Being able to find the positivity in one’s life is very essential, being able to find happiness in small things and breaking down the complexity of life by focusing on the small moments of joy is what makes our lives happier and healthier.
In the next article, we will bring before you some interesting theories on Positive Psychology that will help you be happier! Thank you.