Martin Seligman, the “pioneer of positive psychology,” started looking at scientific ways to explore human happiness. Yet, positive psychology extends beyond a simple theory as to why people are happy. Instead, the study of positive psychology and positive thinking utilizes interview-style research to determine why certain human beings are more satisfied with their lives.
Throughout his research, Seligman identified three kinds of happiness that human beings experience across their lifetimes. Each type of happiness can be related to a particular positive emotion. Even so, there seems to be a progression from the first type to the third type. The three types include:
- Pleasant Life: Pleasure and gratification
- Good (Engaged) Life: Embodiment of strengths and virtues
- Meaningful Life: Meaning and purpose
THE PLEASANT LIFE
The pleasant life is characterized as one of the three types of happiness that human beings can experience within the framework of positive thinking. To achieve a pleasant life, individuals need to commit to thinking constructively about their past. It also involves critical thinking to gain optimism and establish a sense of hope for future endeavors. In this lifestyle, someone will hopefully feel happier in their present situations.
Dealing with the past involves reflecting on what has happened and focusing on gratitude and forgiveness. Furthermore, it is vital to deal with negative emotions, including anger, turmoil, trauma, and more, to move on from the past. Finding ways to deal with the past can help people focus on their present situation and find happiness.
When the negative emotions of the past have been identified and reconciled, people can focus on building optimism for their future and establishing a sense of hope. This optimism involves enjoying current experiences and being mindful in ways that can increase happiness in the present. When looking to the future, it is essential to maintain an open mind and remain optimistic.
THE GOOD OR ENGAGED LIFE
Researchers use the terms “the good life” and “the engaged life” to describe the second type of happiness. Seligman described the engaged life as a phase of happiness wherein an individual lives in a way that incorporates their character strengths and virtues.
The engaged life envisions a world where people live by their virtues, so incorporating good character is a way to live a happy and fulfilling life. In addition, because good character is often linked to happiness, people must recognize their strengths to learn how to improve themselves.
Seligman outlines six different virtues valued in nearly every culture. These virtues are valued not to achieve power or high standing but in their own right. Moreover, they are generally attainable by every human being.
- Wisdom and knowledge
- Love and humanity
- Spirituality and transcendence
Along with these virtues, strengths are an essential aspect of achieving the engaged life. Strengths can be developed and reached through an effort that builds confidence and brings happiness. Because character strengths must be worked at, they are essential to someone’s understanding of themselves and the world around them. The strengths can also be categorized within each virtue.
THE MEANINGFUL LIFE
There are no shortcuts to happiness, and the meaningful life embodies character strengths from both the pleasant and the engaged lives. While the pleasant life may bring about more positive emotions, one can better understand themselves by exploring their virtues and strengths. Once this understanding is accomplished, a person may be able to attain happiness through the meaningful life.
The meaningful life involves employing one’s strengths and virtues to give back to the community. When giving back, someone can use their skills to empower and enrich the lives of others.
POSITIVE EMOTIONS THAT SUPPORT REMISSION
Positive emotions are essential to improve life outcomes, including the potential for longer life, improved health, and a more supportive social network. Positive emotions are often paired with events or circumstances that make people feel happy.
Optimism is defined as maintaining a hopeful attitude and confidence that any outcome will be successful. Not only is optimism associated with resilience but learned optimism may help an individual throughout remission.
Gratitude involves being thankful and showing appreciation for the people, belongings, experiences, and events surrounding you. For any individual seeking a healthy lifestyle, expressing gratitude, potentially through gratitude journals, helps them think about the positive things in their life.
Finding a purpose is no easy task. However, figuring out little things that are motivating can have a significant impact on remission. Finding purpose may involve using virtues and strengths to help others and instill a sense of gratitude and belonging.
Even though happiness is a rather complicated state, it is crucial to search for ways to improve happiness during remission from something like a mental disorder. Finding happiness in the little things may help someone increase their self-esteem and have a more positive outlook on life.
Empathy involves the ability to understand another person’s feelings and connect with them on an emotional level. Empathy helps one their relationships and learn how to better communicate with family and friends.
THE IMPACT OF POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY
Positive psychology is influenced by positive emotions and working towards happiness in an individual’s life. Positive psychology promotes these practices because happiness is achieved through extensive personal reflection, identifying one’s strengths, and becoming an active community member.
Creating personal connections with other people is essential. By establishing interpersonal relationships, a person can increase their overall empathy and learn how to maintain relationships that benefit everyone involved. Additionally, these relationships build social support and can keep someone motivated to continue working on themselves.
Engaging activities help someone find happiness by participating in various events throughout their day. While engaging activities may seem mundane, they require quite a bit to help focus the brain on the present. Examples of engaging activities may include exercising, going for a hike, or even baking!
Psychological interventions, such as writing gratitude journals, can make clients more aware of their strengths and the positive experiences, people, and events around them. When exploring gratitude, individuals may find that even the smallest act of kindness or a seemingly insignificant sunrise can promote gratitude. By incorporating gratitude journals into a morning or evening routine, someone can learn how to use positive emotions to improve their overall outlook as they heal from a mental disorder.
Meditation is a powerful psychological intervention for reflection, learning how to be in the moment, and increasing an individual’s sense of mindfulness. Meditation helps to focus one’s mind on learning how to manage negative emotions.
POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY’S THREE DOMAINS IN HEALING
Positive psychology is deeply rooted in healing practices, and each of the three types of happiness can be associated with different healing aspects.
REACQUISITION OF CHARACTER STRENGTHS
Negative emotions can become overpowering and make it difficult for an individual to function as they once did. Moreover, an increase in negative emotions can have drastic impacts on relationships and life success. For that reason, reflecting on character strengths and positive values can help clients find new skills and passions to incorporate into their daily lives.
POSITIVE ORGANIZATIONS HELP BUILD A MEANINGFUL LIFE
Because establishing a meaningful life involves being more active in one’s community, it is beneficial to become part of positive organizations that establish a tight-knit community. Furthermore, using one’s strengths to contribute to the organization can help someone find purpose, improve self-esteem, and improve their outcomes.
ACHIEVING POSITIVE EMOTIONS
Positive psychology should be used to help individuals learn how to achieve positive emotions and feelings through their work and life outcomes. Changing mindsets can be difficult, but it is well worth it for long-term goals when it comes to overcoming mental disorders.
The information presented on this page is a general overview and is offered here as a resource. At Ampelis Health, each client meets with our medical team to determine treatment protocols based on individual circumstances.
If you would like to learn more about Ampelis Health or have additional questions, feel free to call.
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