Positive psychology is a relatively new branch of psychological science. Its focus is on improving happiness and helping human beings develop prosperous lives filled with purpose. You’ve likely heard even more about it in the internet age, as its popularity continues to grow. It’s very approachable and easy to digest by those who read up on it and seek to apply it to their lives.
Positive psychology is so game-changing because it stands out among other branches of its science. Many aspects of psychology focus on abnormalities and dysfunction in behaviors. Meanwhile, positive psychology intends to concern itself with strength instead of solely on weakness. It provides a good balance against other psychological sciences and studies, which are necessary but certainly much grimmer.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Martin Seligman, expert psychologists at the top of this field, believe in its potential. They state that the branch will be able to promote effective interventions and deeper scientific understanding for communities, individuals, and social circles of all kinds to thrive.
With that being said, not everyone is entirely sold in positive psychology. Some people believe that it may be superficial or not sufficiently scientific or proven. But, while there’s a lot more work to be done in the field, it’s already established itself in well-researched ways. If you’re on the fence, read on! Here are ten benefits of positive psychology, according to science.
1. Positive Psychology Encourages Gratitude
Gratitude is a trait that’s hard to cultivate. Given the many difficulties one may face in their everyday life, it’s often hard to remember to be thankful.
Research has shown that positive psychology may improve that grateful cultivation. It allows us to focus on the things that are good about the world we live in, so it makes sense that it’d increase our appreciation! Gratitude has numerous benefits for happiness and various factors in life, including:
- Increased psychological wellbeing, happiness, mental health, and life satisfaction
- Improved experiences of positive emotions
- Better levels of spiritualism and faith, where applicable
- Increased levels of optimism
- Heightened senses of self-esteem and confidence
- Improved social relationships, likeability, and support circles, as well as tighter bonds with loved ones
- Increased desire for generosity and to give to others
- Reduced levels of materialism
- Improved sense of meaning in work and life
- Better decision-making skills, patience, and leadership ability
- Heightened performance in work environments and reduced rates of work-related stress
- Improved sleep
- Balanced blood pressure
- Increased motivation for activity and exercise
2. Positive Psychology Tells Us We Can Take Control
Many people’s struggles with mental health and psychological factors have to do with a feeling like they’re not in control. When everything seems so hard to handle, people can quickly develop helplessness and hopelessness.
Positive psychology allows people to take control back into their lives. Its findings have indicated, with studies, that intentionally cultivating positive attitudes and moods can manifest them into reality. In other words, taking steps towards improving your life can already begin to have a marked impact on your overall happiness.
This is a powerful message – it shows that you can take control. The fact that you can take action to improve your wellbeing in such a significant way is inspiring!
3. Positive Psychology Balances One’s Relationship With Money
Money is a motivating factor in many people’s lives. But if it becomes too big of a driving force, it can cause problems in your life. Positive psychology allows for a balance between big money dreams and other more meaningful endeavors. It achieves this in the following ways:
· It Emphasises Experiences
Instead of material things, positive psychology research has taught us that spending money on experiences increases happiness. It takes some guilt off spending money to make yourself feel better by redirecting that spending to productivity.
· It Balances Financial Goals
Attaining wealth is a fairly common goal among many different people. Studies in positive psychology have shown us that accumulating money can improve happiness. It’s not that big of a boost to your mood overall. In other words, it doesn’t discourage financial goals – it just tells you that it shouldn’t be the only goal you have in life.
· It Encourages Generosity
When you don’t have additional money to spend, it’s tempting to spend it on yourself. But positive psychology research indicates that spending money on others will make you happier than spending it on yourself. That altruism comes with plenty of other benefits in your life, too!
4. Positive Psychology Encourages Acts Of Kindness
So, you know that positive psychology encourages monetary generosity, as it can increase happiness more than spending money on yourself. And the field has much more to say about the generosity of any kind! Studies in the branch have shown that those who perform random acts of kindness have better wellbeing and social standing.
Research also states that this applies to volunteering. Working for a cause that you believe in can boost life satisfaction and even reduce depression symptoms!
5. It Can Be Applied To Work Environments
Workplaces are often unfriendly environments to the people employed within them. Many business owners, managers, and bosses fail to realize how caring for their employees’ wellbeing can benefit their business. Positive psychology research shows that numerous workplaces can be improved by:
- Encouraging positive emotions, which improves performance at different jobs
- Taking small, simple actions to improve morale among employees
- Further caring about fostering positive feelings, which are contagious and can spread quickly among people in a work environment
- Giving people work that they can find meaningful and important
6. Positive Psychology Distances Us From Toxic Positivity
Many people believe that positive psychology is all about forcing yourself to be positive at all times. But this is just a myth. In reality, the field has taught us that unrealistically pushing yourself to optimism can actually do more harm than good, or so studies say!
Toxic positivity has been on the rise in recent years. People have tried to push this idea that you must continually force a smile onto your face no matter what happens. Many individuals tell themselves that everything happens for a reason, so they shouldn’t be upset by adverse events. There’s also an intense belief that happiness is 100% a choice, so if you’re sad, it’s your fault.
These ways of thinking are all extremely damaging because they:
- Shame people for having normal emotions and invalidate people for their experiences.
- Avoid authenticity and promote facades.
- Prevent people from regulating and processing emotions healthily.
- Stop people from growing and learning from negative experiences.
Luckily, positive psychology has already begun to educate us on the pitfalls of toxic positivity. It’s much better to experience and feel each emotion.
7. It Develops Positive Social Circles
Positive psychology has taught us more about developing positive social circles. Studies in the field have indicated that interacting with others via physical affection can release oxytocin.
Oxytocin is a powerful neurotransmitter capable of promoting trust, morality, empathy, and wellbeing. Better yet, as we previously mentioned, these good feelings are all contagious. As such, if you develop a positive social circle, you’re more likely to attract happier, more positive people too!
8. It Helps Us To Focus On Meaning
It’s easy enough to guess that people are happiest when they can do something meaningful and purposeful with their lives. Studies in positive psychology have indicated that this truly is the case. If you fill your life with meaning, you’ll feel happier. Essential notes on such findings are:
- Satisfying needs can improve happiness but don’t improve meaning. It would help to supplement your basic needs with greater fulfillment for maximum satisfaction.
- Being true to yourself improves feelings of meaning, not happiness.
- Meaning in life is a long-term feature, whereas happiness is short-term and matters for the present.
- People who have a lot of meaning in their life but not enough happiness are more likely to feel anxious and stressed out, indicating the need for a balance of both.
9. Positive Psychology Focuses On Personal Improvement
People often focus on what’s wrong with them that they forget they can improve on things they dislike about themselves. Indeed, positive psychology research proves that you can fight setbacks and adverse life events by enhancing your strength of character.
It’s worth noting that, to some degree, happiness is influenced by your biology. But you can develop a more positive life experience by working on yourself, developing healthy relationships, and building positive traits!
10. It Improves Your Chances Of Success
Last but certainly not least, positive psychology has given us a unique glimpse into success and effort. So when you implement the findings of its research into your daily life, you are more likely to achieve success.
Better yet, the happier you are, the more successful you may become, not the other way around! As such, focusing on your wellbeing first instead of hinging your value on your achievements is a much better way to live your life.
Final Thoughts On Some Benefits Of Positive Psychology
As a new field, positive psychology has a long way to go before we can truly see its full potential. But it’s extremely promising, and for once, we’re asking what’s right about us instead of what’s wrong with us. Instead of focusing on fixing things, it’s helping to uplift us based on what’s already good in the world around us.
It’s worth noting that, like any field of psychology, this one has accumulated its share of criticism. Mistakes in research have led to some faulty and misleading findings, especially in earlier years. Positive psychology is also highly individualistic, focusing on very unique, specific traits and characteristics. There’s also a lot of reliance on self-reporting in its research, and there’s a fair bit of Western bias in the branch on top of that.
But all branches of psychology have their upsides and downsides. Criticism doesn’t make positive psychology obsolete – it just means that more research is needed to refine what we know! Ultimately, there’s a lot to look forward to, and there are already a lot of great things we’ve learned from its study.
There’s a lot to love about positive psychology. It has shown plenty of benefits for everyday life, personal growth, social interaction, and the workplace. Its steady growth will bring new findings with it, and, hopefully, we’ll soon be able to understand it better and how to use it in our lives.