28/05/2020

How positive psychology can benefit you

Mental health is a trending global topic, and with good reason, suicide rates have been increasing year-on-year with the majority of deaths involving men. The social norms that confined us all are slowly deteriorating and being told to 'man up' is no longer a way to resolve emotions. People are speaking out, reaching out, and positive psychology practice is increasing.

Founder of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, conducted research where he discovered ‘learned helplessness’; this is where people learn to be helpless as they feel they have no control over what happens to them in their life. From these studies, Seligman created another theory; if negative traits could be learned, perhaps positive ones could too. 

Positive psychology is similar to going to a spa to get a massage, slight exercise and a decent meal, but instead of benefitting the body, it works for the mind. The techniques involved shift away from traditional psychology efforts, focusing on positive emotions rather than sifting through the negative. 

From a ‘glass-half-full’ perspective, Psychologists try and push their patients to talk about what makes life worth living for them; it could be family, friends or their career. Within the realms of everyday life, patients are encouraged to focus on positive traits such as compassion, and experiences such as joy. The key is to make those who deem their life as ‘average’ or ‘fine’ realise their life is actually ‘great’.

By shifting perspectives to a positive outlook, people are maximising their happiness in everyday behaviour. Multiple findings have been established that allow us to improve our quality of life, including:

  • Focusing less on wealth will make you happier. People often overestimate the effects that money has on happiness, being rich is not the key to a happy life
  • Spending money on experiences gives a more significant boost than on material objects like cars and clothes
  • Gratitude is one of the largest contributors to happiness, being thankful for people and their efforts and voicing that emotion brings positive feelings
  • Physical acts of affection bring substantial boosts to your overall wellbeing
  • Happiness, like sadness, is contagious, so surround yourself with positive people
  • People who perform acts of kindness in their life are widely accepted by their peers, and also, happier
  • Volunteering your time to worthy causes that you believe in also improves your wellbeing and can reduce symptoms of depression

With this summary of positive psychology, you can gain a small insight into what life could be like as a Psychologist. You can learn to use these types of techniques to save someone from a dark place, and turn around their life for the better.

If you’re interested in starting a career in Psychology, take a look at the University of Bolton courses here.

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