For millennia, happiness has been the quest of humanity. And a revolution has been brewing in psychology laboratories worldwide. Happiness, studied scientifically, can bring new results to counter depression, and to experience joy in a sustainable manner. Here’s what you can draw from this new field of positive psychology!
A New Way to Find Happiness
For over a decade, a very serious group of researchers in psychology in the United States have been tackling a new question. Tired of dwelling on problems that conventional psychology explored for over a century and a half, that of trying to understand how to treat mental illness, they asked themselves, “Why not try to understand why people are happy?”
Thence positive psychology was born. Whilst it is commendable to relieve people of their psychological suffering, the fact of increasing life satisfaction is a promising area not only to increase happiness, but also to treat disease. But do not confuse “positive psychology” with “positive thinking”, the scope of the former being much larger and complex.
For example, positive psychology shows how we often rely on shortcuts to increase our well-being (pleasure, entertainment and excesses in various areas of our lives). This vision of happiness leads to too many people, even if they have great wealth, finding themselves spiritually empty and hungry.
Instead, positive psychologists say we ought to rely on our strengths and personal qualities to find happiness and delight, as positive emotions that deviate from authentic and moral attitudes inevitably lead to emptiness and depression.
Are you naturally happy? Do you have strategies of your own that offer positive psychology? Here’s a little test from the book Authentic Happiness, by Martin Seligman, one of the founders of this new science.
Do we have real control over our sense of happiness? Can we grow this feeling and keep it over the years? Like the great thinkers of mankind, from Confucius to Aristotle, through to St. Thomas Aquinas, positive psychology has identified fundamental virtues which, when experienced frequently, feed and maintain happiness. These fundamental qualities, six in number, are: wisdom and knowledge, courage, love of humanity, justice, temperance, and spirituality.
Here are 24 forces that research in positive psychology has identified help you stay happy!
3. Open-mindedness and critical thinking
4. The pleasure of learning
6. Authenticity and honesty
9. Optimism and enthusiasm
11. Emotional Intelligence
15. Compassion and forgiveness
19. Enjoying beauty and excellence
20. Gratitude and appreciation
23. Faith and spirituality
There are also other factors recognized by positive psychology. These are attitudes and ways of seeing the world that provide our daily well-being, if we take the time to appropriate them, that is.
To forgive is to understand and situate the wrongdoing or pain of a situation in its proper context. Forgiveness is often difficult because it goes beyond the fact. It helps us accept blame and move on. It liberates and restores relationships, another great way to keep oneself happy.
An optimistic person is one who is willing to believe in a favorable outcome when a situation does not suggest a sure result. Optimism helps attain a lot of happiness. It also helps us to be grateful for what we have, and it lets us entertain hope for the future.
Through positive psychology, we can reserve many good surprises for ourselves for years and years to come. It lets us develop a positive perspective towards happiness with total abandon.