Learning the Science of Wellbeing

What is Positive Psychology?

Introducing positive psychology

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to focus on the negative aspects of your life? Whether worrying about what could go wrong or dwelling on past mistakes, negativity comes naturally to us. But what if there was a way to train our minds to focus on the positive instead? That’s where positive psychology comes in.


Positive psychology is a new field that focuses on mental health, strengths, positive emotions, positive institutions, and optimal functioning. It’s a science built on careful study and empirical evidence. And research results suggest that there is as much or more to be gained from capitalizing on strengths and positivity as from trying to overcome weaknesses.


But positive psychology isn’t just some passing fad. Instead, it has become a lasting institution with graduate education programs, research grants, and professional journals dedicated solely to its principles. In this chapter, we’ll explore the foundational studies of positive psychology as well as the newest theories and interventions.


At its heart, positive psychology is a radical idea that challenges our default mode of focusing on problems and setbacks. Most of us spend at least some part of each day worrying about what could go wrong or feeling frustrated with life’s many setbacks and disappointments. But according to research evidence, this negativity bias may be hard-wired into our brains.


For pre-industrial tribal people living in inhospitable places, being vigilant for all that could go wrong made sense from an evolutionary perspective. Those who could adapt quickly and respond to threats were better able to survive and function. However, this vigilance doesn’t necessarily translate well for modern-day urban commuters or office workers facing different challenges.


That’s where positive psychology comes in – suggesting that looking at opportunities, successes, and strengths might be more fruitful than always planning for and dealing with problems. It’s not that positive psychologists advocate only a rose-tinted perspective on life but that downside risks, setbacks, and pitfalls take up the lion’s share of our attention too often. Positive psychology suggests much to be gained in expanding your focus to include life’s better points.


So how can we train ourselves to focus more on the positive? One way is by practicing gratitude. Studies have shown that simply writing down three things you’re grateful for daily can increase happiness and decrease depressive symptoms. Another way is by focusing on our strengths instead of our weaknesses. We can build resilience and boost wellbeing by identifying and utilizing our strengths.


Positive psychology has also given rise to evidence-based interventions designed to enhance positive emotions, resilience, emotional intelligence, creativity, and performance under stress and promote mental health.


In conclusion, positive psychology is a science that challenges us to focus on the positive aspects of life rather than constantly dwelling on problems and setbacks. It offers evidence-based interventions designed to increase wellbeing and resilience while expanding our understanding of what it means to truly flourish. So why not give it a try? You might be surprised at how much more fulfilling your life becomes when you start looking for the positives instead of always focusing on the negatives.


The Antecedents of Positive Psychology

As the field of positive psychology continues to grow, it is essential to recognize that it is not a novel concept. Great thinkers have always been interested in the good life and living virtuously. For example, philosophers from ancient Greece emphasized personal freedom, the pursuit of pleasure, and self-control as crucial components of a fulfilling life. Religious texts and spiritual leaders throughout history have also emphasized the importance of positive character traits such as forgiveness, self-sacrifice, faith, and loyalty.


In modern times, thought leaders in the humanistic movement have emphasized individual growth through positive psychology. Researchers studying hope, happiness, playfulness, creativity, wisdom, and gratitude during its early days cobbled together positive psychology. Martin Seligman used his influence to bring pioneers together to establish a loosely organized research literature that spoke about people at their best.


Positive psychology caught on for various reasons; its empirical foundation provided a positive emphasis. In addition, Seligman’s effortful popularization made it more accessible to the masses. Moreover, businesses were attracted to this model because they saw the potential for valuable insights into motivation, productivity, and high performance.


Educators also saw value in using student assets to improve learning outcomes. At the same time, counselors recognized that tapping into strengths could help overcome problems without relying on traditional therapy sessions.


The general public took an interest in this topic because they saw an opportunity for self-growth based on cutting-edge science behind this research area.


Positive psychology has now become more sophisticated in its methods with three major foci: positive subjective states such as happiness or contentment; positive traits like character strengths; and finally, institutions like schools or businesses designed around these principles.


One exciting trend in recent years is how Positive Psychology has transformed from a basic science into an increasingly applied one. The focus is now on how best to use research programs highlighting strengths, optimism, and happiness to improve workplace culture, team building, therapy, or educational curricula.


Why a Positive Focus?

Research evidence suggests that students gain more when they work on their strengths rather than shoring up weaknesses. Therapies that focus on solutions are briefer than long-lasting counseling techniques. Businesses profit by attending to workers’ best qualities as well. Positive psychology transcends simple self-help advice or common sense wisdom; it is a powerful tool for improving ourselves and those around us.


Jim Clifton, the former CEO of the Gallup Organization, once said that positive psychology works because research shows it does. CAPP’s work with international organizations such as Unilever and Norwich Union shows that leaders in the business world have noticed positive psychology’s potential.


The benefits of positive psychology are significant for many areas of life, such as the workplace and education. For example, studies have shown that employees are more productive when they can engage their strengths regularly. At the same time, students benefit from special education programs designed around these principles.


Positive Psychology has received scientific approval making it perfect for clients or supervisors wary of new approaches to work. However, despite its growing popularity, some still wonder what it is and why it is essential.


To answer this question positively, we must consider how Positive Psychology has become widespread. It is necessary to experience it as a larger whole and plug into a wider community of people who share your interest in this topic.


In conclusion, Positive Psychology is not just another buzzword floating around academic circles but an approach rooted in ancient traditions that emphasize personal growth through our character strengths while also providing an empirical foundation backed by cutting-edge science. It’s time we embrace this evolving field with open arms because its potential applications can lead us toward living fulfilling lives both personally and professionally. 


Understanding Emotions 

Defining Emotions

Emotions are a fundamental part of the human experience. They can be positive and negative and are crucial to our mental health and wellbeing. In this chapter, we’ll explore different theories about emotions, including how they’re defined, their effects on our minds and bodies, and why they’re crucial for our wellbeing.


When psychologists first began studying emotions, they focused on “hedonic capacity,” or our ability to feel good. Today, researchers have shifted their focus to “affectivity,” or the extent to which an individual experiences positive or negative moods. Positive affect refers to feelings like joy and contentment, while negative affect includes emotions such as sadness or fear.


One of the most significant findings in recent research on emotions is that individual differences in the brain remain stable over time. This means some people may be naturally more susceptible to experiencing certain feelings than others. For example, some individuals may be more likely to feel anxious or depressed when faced with stressful situations.


Scientists have also studied resilient individuals when faced with potential threats. They’ve found that those more resilient tend to have less activity in brain areas that deal with worry. This suggests that resilience may be linked to how our brains process information about potential threats.


There are several basic human emotions that researchers have identified as being universal across cultures. For example, Paul Ekman posited six basic human emotions: anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise. However, other researchers argue that there may be ten basic emotions: anger, contempt, disgust, distress, fear, guilt, interest, joy, shame, and surprise.


Negative emotions tend to narrow our thought-action repertoires and are associated with specific action tendencies. In contrast, positive emotion broaden-and-build theory suggests that positive emotions broaden our thought-action repertoires by undoing negative ones while building resilience.


Researchers at Fredrickson’s Positive Emotions Lab have found that when we experience one of the main positive emotions, our minds tend to open up, and we can think “outside the box.” This is important because it helps us get a bird’s-eye view of our situation and become more creative. Positive emotions have also been found to enhance verbal creativity tasks.


Positive emotions can build personal resources such as intellectual, physical, social, and psychological. These resources can be used as needed, such as problem-solving or being open to learning. As these resources develop, they induce more positive emotions that continue building them in an upward spiral.


The undoing effect of positive emotions is the theory that they can help our bodies return to normal physiological functioning faster than other types of emotion. Research is underway to discover if this extends to cognitive tasks like pattern recognition.


Losada and Fredrickson conducted a mathematical equation determining the ideal positive and negative emotions ratio for flourishing business teams. They studied 60 high-performing (n 15), medium (n 26), and low-performing (n 19) business teams for the experience of positive interaction to negative interaction and whether they inquired or told about themselves or others. High-performing business teams had 6:1 positive-to-negative interaction with more inquiry than advocacy and discussed others more than themselves.


Fredrickson’s top ten positive emotions are joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love. Love encompasses all other nine emotions and can be elicited through the presence of other positive emotions.


The brain plays a significant role in how we experience emotions. Engineers have developed fMRI or EEG machines that allow cognitive neuropsychologists to access different brain areas to match physiological or emotional markers. The critical components in the brain concerning the experience of positive emotion appear to be the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and amygdala. In contrast, increased activity in the amygdala predicts higher levels of negative affect. The PFC is home to emotions and emotional regulation. It enables the generation of goals and pathways to achieve them while monitoring daily experiences concerning long-term goals.


There are two main theories as to how positive emotions come about: our material brains and our perceived rate of progress toward meaningful goals. Positive affect is directly linked to goal attainment, with the approach system (positive affect) bringing us toward desired objectives. In contrast, the avoidance system (negative affect) removes us from threatening situations.


In conclusion, emotions are a complex but essential part of human life. While researchers have identified basic human emotions, many questions remain about how they work and their effects on our minds and bodies. By understanding more about how emotions work, we can learn ways to better manage them for greater wellbeing. 


The Power of Emotions 

Emotions are often considered irrational and impulsive, which should be controlled and subdued. However, emotions have a power that can be harnessed for success in every aspect of life. They are contagious, linked to memory, and can be called forth by triggers such as old photographs. Positive emotion is one of the most significant resources we overlook.


The Greeks saw emotions as the lower, animalistic side of human nature. Self-control and the ability to override emotion became known as a virtue. Morality was viewed as a cognitive process in which people weighed rules, norms, and values in their heads before making decisions or acting out. This same cynical view of emotions can still be seen today when positive feelings are often regarded as naïve, shallow, or selfish.


Skepticism about emotion is understandable, given how much they can get out of control in psychological mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. The media often discusses these psychological problems, reminding us that emotions can become overwhelming if not appropriately monitored.


We must consider why we have emotions and how best to use them for our benefit.


Affective neuroscientists believe whether we engage the behavioral activation system (BAS) or behavioral inhibition system (BIS) will determine affect. For example, Charles Carver and Michael Scheier have spent the past few decades researching goals and self-regulation’s effects on emotional wellbeing based on behavior theory.


When we set a goal that engages us in what is known as a discrepancy loop, trying to minimize the distance between where we are now versus where we want to be, this process adjusts our behavior to get closer to our reference value. However, outside influences or impediments sometimes stand in the way of attaining our goals.


The rate of progress determines whether we experience positive or negative emotions rather than improvement per se because negative emotion comes from inadequate progress toward a goal, while positive affect comes from progress toward future success.


Positive emotions can be used to connect with others, allowing us to open up and include them in our sense of self. This inclusion side effect tremendously impacts personal relationships as we are more likely to understand other people’s complexities and perspectives. Cross-cultural research shows that feeling positive emotions is not a selfish endeavor, but it can help combat and almost eliminate own-race bias. Additionally, positive emotions can affect cross-cultural perspective-taking, with people who feel higher levels of positive emotions being able to take a larger perspective and exhibit greater sympathy and compassion for someone from a different cultural context.


People who experience positive emotions and have resilient tendencies can draw on resources to help them out much faster than those who do not experience these emotions. Positive attenuation is also essential in protecting against depressive symptoms. Resilient individuals have a unique ability to maintain and regulate positive emotions.


By pursuing positive emotion-eliciting activities, we accrue resources that enhance our odds of survival and reproduction. Positive emotions signal health and wellbeing; the minimum ratio for thriving is three positive emotions per negative emotion.


Personality strongly correlates with dispositional global positive affect toward extraversion in the NEO Big Five personality traits used by psychologists across most areas of psychology. In addition, happiness has robust relationships between extraversion as well as neuroticism.


The presence of a Duchene smile has been regarded as an objective measure of genuine happiness correlated with shorter duration grief after bereavement, less negativity, greater competence, more positive ratings from others, and greater wellbeing in later life.


To conclude, it is essential to understand the power of our emotional responses since they can be harnessed for success in all walks of life if appropriately managed. Emotions are contagious; they have links to memory recall through triggers like old photographs or songs that bring back memories associated with specific times or places in our lives. Positive emotions can be used to connect with others and promote understanding across different cultures, creating empathy and compassion. By pursuing positive emotion-eliciting activities, we accrue resources that enhance our odds of survival and reproduction while minimizing the effects of negative emotions on our mental wellbeing. Emotions are a valuable resource we must learn to use correctly to live a fulfilling life. 


What are Emotions For?

Emotions are not just something we experience; they are a critical component of our lives. They help us remember, learn, and communicate with others, and they play a role in our morality. But what are emotions for? In this chapter, we will explore the many functions of emotions and how they can impact our behavior.


Our emotional tracking system is not perfect, but it is usually correct. It helps us navigate interactions, circumstances, behaviors, and decisions that accompany many emotional consequences. For example, negative emotions such as anger, sadness, guilt, fear, and related emotions can be powerful motivators to protect ourselves. Their absence would lead to a dysfunctional world where people lie, hurt others, and steal without remorse.


Negative emotions narrow our possible thoughts and actions when confronted with threats or problems. In contrast to negative feelings that narrow our options, positive ones broaden them. Barbara Fredrickson’s “Broaden and Build” theory argues that feeling good broadens our interests while helping build capabilities for future challenges.


Positive emotion makes us more curious about the world while improving problem-solving abilities. It further makes people more sociable by cultivating relationships with others who seek out new activities or develop new skills to enhance their creativity.


The Broaden-and-Build theory of positive emotion is one of Positive Psychology’s most important research findings; it suggests that happiness helps individuals function better at work and in relationships in areas they care about most.


Positive emotions such as curiosity and friendliness have their place in professional life despite the bad reputation happiness has acquired over time associated with dopiness, complacency, and naivety, among other things.


There is now a mountain of research data showing that happiness doesn’t just feel good but has real tangible benefits like lower rates of smoking, drug use, suicide, emergency room visits, hospital visits, fewer automobile fatalities, lower blood pressure, fewer heart attacks, more physical exercise, better immune system functioning, higher longevity and lower mortality rates, higher pain thresholds, better cardiovascular functioning, and better global health.


Additionally, happy people are more likely to get married, stay married, have more friends, feel more social support, help colleagues, show up to work on time, take fewer sick days, receive better supervisor customer evaluations, and make more money.


Positive psychology is a science that provides empirical support for longstanding claims; it is possible to tie positivity directly to outcomes that executives and managers care about, such as productivity, turnover, and organizational citizenship.


Harnessing the power of good feelings is relevant to all professions, whether you work in coaching, psychotherapy, education, or human resources. Positive emotions are so widely beneficial that they may be the most significant resource you overlook. Despite strong support for this conclusion, it is essential to tailor your language when discussing this topic. For example, happiness might not fly in an organizational setting, but “better team productivity,” “lower turnover,” and “better conflict resolution ability” will get the attention of nearly all managers and executives.


In conclusion, emotions have a significant impact on our lives. They help us navigate through interactions, circumstances, behaviors, and decisions accompanied by emotional consequences. Positive emotions broaden our interests while helping us build capabilities for future challenges. Harnessing the power of good feelings is relevant to all professions, whether we work in coaching, psychotherapy, education, or human resources. It’s time we start taking positive emotion seriously because it can be a powerful resource on the road to success in almost every walk of life! 


How do We Increase Positivity?

Positivity is a complex concept that can be difficult to promote, but it is possible. Many organizations have attempted to infuse positivity around the edges through motivational posters and “casual dress Fridays.” However, these approaches do not always work. In this chapter, we will explore ways to increase positivity in the workplace.


Humor can be an effective way to increase positivity. It can dispel tense situations, bring people closer together, address difficult subjects, and be pleasurable. Humor is not natural for everyone; however, promoting humor can be done in many ways. For example, you could ask employees to share funny stories or jokes at the beginning of staff meetings.


To create a positive culture in your workplace, start with leadership. Leaders should model positivity for clients and employees alike. They should use positive language when interacting with others and encourage their team members to do the same. Using empirically tested interventions such as positive psychology research on strengths, hope, and optimism can also be helpful.


The belief in the power of positivity is essential when attempting to promote it within a workplace environment. Positivity intervention tools like focusing on strengths-based approaches and increasing optimism will inspire motivation among your workforce.


Emotional intelligence 

It’s worth understanding what emotions are for, what they can do for us, and how they work to our advantage. Emotional intelligence (EI) has been widely used within pop psychology circles since its inception by Salovey and Mayer (1990). EI is defined as the ability to monitor one’s feelings while also being able to recognize emotions in others accurately.


Researchers believe that emotions have use beyond purely subjective experience – they are not present merely for their sake but serve some purposeful function within our lives.


After Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences (1993), people started recognizing that intelligence was more than IQ alone. Instead, there are several kinds of intelligence, including linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist intelligence.


There are two distinct groups of models of emotional intelligence: the ability EI models and mixed EI models. The Ability Model framework is the most robust in terms of objective classifications. According to this model, EI has four stages of competencies or mental skills.


The Ability Model was developed by John Mayer, Peter Salovey, and David Caruso (MSCEIT). This model states that EI comprises four branches or stages of competencies or mental skills: perceiving emotions; using emotions; understanding emotions; managing emotions.


Perceiving is the ability to recognize emotions in oneself or others, which can help individuals cope with social situations. It involves asking questions like how I feel and how others feel. Using is the second branch which entails one’s ability to use emotions to facilitate mood – this can be done by bringing oneself down into a calm, unaroused state to narrow focus or by bringing oneself up with music or self-talk to enhance positive feelings and broader thinking patterns.


The third branch is recognizing that emotions are complex and can change over time. People who are high in this area understand that emotions are not just mad or hurt, happy or sad but can be a mixture of all these feelings simultaneously. When developing this area, it is essential to ask yourself why you are feeling these emotions and what has caused them.


The final branch of emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to manage one’s own emotions effectively. This includes recognizing when expressing certain feelings is inappropriate and managing them accordingly when needed. Additionally, EI predicts wellbeing, self-esteem, prosocial behaviors, less smoking, less alcohol use, enhanced positive mood, less violent behavior, greater academic eagerness, and higher leadership performance.


Mixed Models of EI view emotional intelligence as a combination of perceived emotional skills and personality traits like neuroticism, extraversion, and agreeableness.


Understanding emotions is a complex process that requires years of research, practice, and self-reflection. However, with the right tools in place – including humor to promote positivity – individuals can develop a better understanding of themselves and those around them.


In conclusion, promoting positivity in the workplace is not easy, but leadership modeling positive behaviors and using empirically tested interventions can increase overall morale within an organization. 


Empirically Tested Interventions 

What is a Positive Intervention?  

Positive interventions are practices or tools that use distinctly positive methods to achieve desired outcomes. However, what constitutes such interventions is not immediately apparent. In this chapter, we will explore how positive interventions differ from normal functioning and how they can promote positivity in organizations.


Imagine a person recovering from surgery and visiting a physical therapist to regain normal functioning. Now, imagine a person visiting a personal trainer at a gym to take an already healthy body and make it perform even better. The latter represents the focus of positive interventions – optimal rather than normal functioning.


Empirically Supported Interventions 

In recent years, positive psychology has come a long way, and researchers are keen to put their findings into practice. While few empirically validated interventions exist, researchers like Martin Seligman and his team have thoroughly scrutinized some tools. In this chapter, we will explore the effectiveness of several empirically supported interventions that can significantly improve our overall wellbeing and happiness.


Identifying Personal Strengths

One tool that has proven highly effective in decreasing depression and increasing happiness is identifying personal strengths linked to health, helping behaviors, creativity, and desirable outcomes at work. Seligman’s research has shown that strength interventions have received empirical support for their efficacy. Furthermore, experimental groups showed more happiness than control groups months after the intervention.


Expressing Gratitude

The most widely used of all interventions is expressing gratitude because it is simple yet powerful. For example, many people do not receive recognition for a well-done job, which can lead to feelings of unappreciation or undervaluation. The gratitude exercise involves keeping a daily gratitude journal where we record three things we are grateful for daily. This simple exercise can be as broad as “I am thankful to be alive” or as specific as “I am thankful to have a working refrigerator.” Studies have shown that this activity boosts positivity levels and helps us stay aware of the good things around us while avoiding the drudgery of everyday life.


Positive Reminiscence

Another empirically supported intervention involves positive reminiscence or recalling positive events from our pasts, such as weddings or moments we’re proud of. This activity can also be done with physical memorabilia, such as trophies, photographs, or printed emails, to create a positive portfolio boosting confidence before presentations or interviews.


Best Possible Self Exercise

The “best possible self” exercise combines imagining one’s best self with cathartic free writing experience. This activity helps people to write about their possible “future self” without comparing their current self with their optimal self, which could lead to disappointment. By writing about a possible future self and imagining everything has gone as well as it could have been, people can take stock of their values and define their aspirations. This exercise results in a boost of inspiration and motivation to rise to this potential.



Another intervention that promotes wellbeing is altruism. Doing good deeds for family members, friends, or even strangers helps us connect with a sense of purpose in life and feel we are fulfilling some critical moral mission. A study looking at keeping track of kindnesses produced counterintuitive results. Participants who practiced five small acts of kindness in a single day reported the greatest benefits.


In conclusion, researchers have investigated these empirically supported interventions, suggesting they can significantly improve our overall wellbeing and happiness levels. Furthermore, regular practice incorporating these tools into our daily lives can help us stay more aware of the good things around us while avoiding the mundane world’s drudgery. 


Broad Interventions 

Positive psychologists have begun testing various techniques and now have a preliminary toolbox for increasing positivity. However, it’s essential to note that not all positive interventions work for everyone in every situation.


There is often attention given to production goals related to organizational change – those that relate to the organization’s mission or bottom line. However, satisfaction goals related to individual employee wellbeing are equally important.


Leaders must set the pace of organizational change by modeling positivity, tailoring positive interventions to teams, and creating structures for positivity. One example is the Centre for Applied Positive Psychology’s routine that promotes staff excellence through “positive 360s.” This intervention involves staff members giving positive feedback face-to-face with each other about their peers’ strengths seen during the workday while offering suggestions on unproductive behaviors needing improvement.


Autonomy-supportive managers give skilled workers leeway in deciding how best to accomplish their goals, which is crucial for positive employee motivation.


When it comes down to choosing which intervention works best for whom, trial and error is often the most effective method. While empirically supported tools are available, knowing when they will work best depends on intrinsic motivation levels involved and whether or not people see such tools as consonant with their identities and values.


Positive psychology isn’t just about finding one intervention that fits all. Instead, it’s about tailoring interventions to specific work areas and individuals to maximize effectiveness.


Jordan Silberman conducted preliminary research in which he allowed coaching clients in one group to choose their positive intervention. In contrast, those in a second group were assigned (in equal proportions) to these same interventions. He found that the positive interventions increased happiness and decreased depression, on average, across groups and interventions, replicating earlier studies.


However, there were no differences in the efficacy of the intervention based on whether it was freely chosen or assigned. This suggests that while some potential has been over-promised or applied too formulaically, many positive interventions can be helpful if tailored appropriately.


In conclusion, positive psychology is an exciting field with a preliminary toolbox of empirically tested interventions for increasing positivity. However, knowing the best tool for each situation depends on how well-tailored they are to specific individuals and work areas. It’s essential not only to focus on production goals related to organizational change but also on satisfaction goals related to individual employee wellbeing, as both are equally important for organizational success. With this knowledge, we can use these tools effectively and promote optimal functioning within ourselves and our organizations. 


A Strengths Focus 

What are Strengths, and How do We Recognise Them?

As children, many of us remember the experience of being picked for sports teams. The captains would take turns choosing players, with the first half of the ceremony focused on acquiring the strongest players. This approach to team selection was clear and well-defined, capitalizing on the potential of a strong team. But what about in adulthood? Do we still focus on strengths when hiring workers, finding partners, or choosing friends?


The answer is yes. Research from the Centre for Applied Positive Psychology and Gallup Organization shows that identifying and harnessing our best qualities can produce better results than trying to shore up our weaknesses. However, as we grow older, we tend to lose sight of this message somewhere between primary school and adulthood.


In organizations, for example, many managers swear by the approach that says they must carefully supervise their worst workers. Unfortunately, this attitude often leads to managers using up their time on a few poor producers while their actual talent pool goes unmanaged. However, studies show that attention to top performers and personal strengths can give individuals, teams, and organizations a cutting edge.


But what exactly are strengths? The science of strengths began in the 1930s with Harvard researcher Gordon Allport who believed that people have specific defining and unique characteristics which are mainly inborn such as friendliness and enthusiasm. These overarching personality leanings are partly what guides decisions and behavior.


In more recent years, psychologists have focused on categorizing people’s qualities into formal taxonomies, which have allowed for strengths as well as weaknesses. Raymond Cattell’s work was important because it represented a new scientifically sophisticated way of categorizing people’s qualities by reducing them down from 4k traits identified by Allport into 16 common factors consisting of two-polar categories including “Outgoing – Reserved,” “Upbeat – Sombre,” “Conscientious – Impulsive.”


Don Clifton became interested in strengths during the 1970s and 80s; then, as head of the Gallup Organization, he became interested in understanding how top performers in the workplace could teach us more about strengths. This led directly to the first widely used classification of strengths, the Clifton StrengthsFinder. The StrengthsFinder is a proprietary instrument that identifies talents in workers and helps create teams that will work optimally.


However, when it comes to our personal lives, it can be counterintuitive to focus on growing our strengths rather than trying to overcome our weaknesses. Most people desire to perform beautifully in almost every life area, but this is often unrealistic. As Founding Director Alex Linley calls it, the curse of mediocrity means we tend to give short shrift to our most significant attributes and focus instead on overcoming problems.


Positive psychology research suggests tremendous mileage is gained from attending to, developing, and employing strengths. Chris Peterson uses Gallup’s research and studies in positive psychology to distinguish between engaged and unengaged workers. Unengaged workers cost corporations money by turning away customers, making more health-related claims, and having high employee turnover rates.


In conclusion, identifying our personal strengths can lead us on a path toward greater success both personally and professionally. By focusing on what we do best rather than trying to fix what’s wrong with us, we can take advantage of what energizes us into optimal functioning, development, and performance, as Linley puts it beautifully.


So let’s take a moment today or over the next couple of days and focus on identifying one or two things that we’re really good at; things that we enjoy doing,  that give us energy when we do them, that help us feel like we’re making a difference in the world. Then let’s start incorporating those things into our daily lives or work routines so they become part of who we are daily! 

The VIA 

Have you ever felt stuck or unsure of which direction to take in your life? Perhaps you’ve struggled to identify your strengths and how best to use them. Fortunately, positive psychology researchers Chris Peterson and Martin Seligman have developed a tool that can help with just that – the Values in Action (VIA) survey.


In the early 2000s, Seligman proposed creating a formal classification of strengths, like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) for mental illnesses. With Peterson’s help, they identified 24 universal personal strengths by examining religious and philosophical texts from around the world. These strengths were recognized across cultures as desirable traits individuals wanted for themselves and their children.


The VIA survey is a free web-based assessment that takes between 20 and 45 minutes to complete. It helps individuals identify their top five signature strengths, which are presented in rank order. The VIA has been used across 54 nations. It is linked to life satisfaction while also playing a role in recovery from illness.


Coaches can use the VIA with clients or students to encourage them to employ their strengths when addressing problems or making important decisions. Many people are surprised by some of their results, but discussing how certain traits manifest themselves in various contexts can lead to greater acceptance and ownership of these qualities.


Seligman, Peterson, and colleagues conducted an experiment testing various positive psychology interventions. Two related to the VIA – identifying one’s strengths and intentionally using a strength during the week – showed better-than-chance effectiveness while decreasing depression and increasing happiness in participants.


While the VIA is remarkable for its focus on character strengths alone, there are other types of strengths worth considering as well. For instance, Alex Linley has identified Bounceback as an ability to use troubling experiences to motivate growth, while Esteem Builder involves appreciating others’ fine points and offering affirmations. Incubators are also valuable for working efficiently and producing high-quality work.


In professional settings, it’s essential to consider more than just an individual’s top five signature strengths. Understanding how different constellations of strengths interact can lead to more productive teamwork while also revealing overlooked strengths that can be leveraged in various ways.


The VIA is a powerful tool for identifying and employing personal strengths. With greater familiarity, individuals can learn to use their unique qualities to overcome challenges and achieve success. 


A Case for Hope and Optimism 

As human beings, we are gifted with the ability to think abstractly and plan for the future. This allows us to set goals, marshal our resources, and hope for a better day. Our future-orientedness is a blessing that can lead to great success. Still, it can also be a curse that paralyzes our decision-making and prevents progress due to vivid imaginings of an unsuccessful future and potential negative consequences.


Fortunately, as coaches, consultants, therapists, managers, and teachers, it is our job to help others use the best aspects of positive psychology – hope and optimism – to think productively about the future. Positive psychology has produced influential theories and interventions for facilitating a hopeful attitude. This chapter will discuss ways to help clients harness optimism to their benefit.


Affective forecasting is our ability to predict how we will feel at some future point. These predictions of future happiness (or sadness, anger) are particularly important because they influence our decisions. Gilbert found that people generally predict in the correct direction but make errors in the intensity and duration of emotion associated with an event. The data suggest that while people take an emotional hit after a loss or failure, it is usually less intense than they predicted and lasts shorter than they would have guessed.


Learning about scientific results from studies on future-mindedness can be helpful because these topics directly affect clients’ or students’ motivation, decisions, and behavior. For example, hopeful individuals are more likely to work hard toward their goals even when tasks are difficult. Also, optimistic individuals tend to give up on impossible tasks when alternatives are present due to time use efficiency.


Obstacles to Hope and Optimism

Hope helps us progress toward the goals we most highly prize by enabling us to see through dark times when we meet life’s natural hurdles in achieving those goals.


However, obstacles may hinder or kill off hope before it has any chance of getting off the ground.


One such obstacle is resource-focused hopelessness, which is the feeling that people do not have the resources to reach their desired outcome. This can be caused by a small staff, inadequate budget, or too little time, leading to stress, complaining, and not liking their work. Goal-focused hopelessness also causes self-confidence to dwindle when one views their goal as too big or overwhelming, even if they have adequate resources.


Identifying a client’s reasons for hopelessness helps increase optimism and motivation. In addition, it’s essential to break down goals into tangible, measurable steps; for example, discussing a project in terms of writing a section, chapter, or page may help break down an otherwise overwhelmingly large task into smaller, manageable ones.



Another obstacle to optimism is perfectionism. In Western societies, many people strive to be perfect in all aspects of life, with high expectations being seen as the only way to achieve desired success. However, perfectionism can be toxic to optimism for most people leading them to discouragement and lack of motivation.


To balance the tension between striving for extreme excellence and setting oneself up for failure, we must focus on enjoying the journey rather than just focusing on achieving our goals alone. Reminding clients that there is no finish line without the race can lead them toward optimistic thinking.


In conclusion, future-mindedness is a powerful tool that allows us to think abstractly about our goals, giving us hope and optimism about what lies ahead. Though obstacles may exist along the way, such as resource-focused hopelessness or perfectionism, breaking down goals into measurable steps while balancing extreme excellence with enjoying one’s work can lead us toward an optimistic view of life’s natural hurdles in achieving those treasured goals. 


Hope Theory

Hope is a powerful force that can drive individuals toward achieving their goals and dreams. In his “Hope Theory,” Rick Snyder outlines three essential conditions that must be present for hope to exist: goal thinking, pathways thinking, and agency thinking. These conditions can be used to develop a can-do attitude in clients or oneself.


Goal thinking is essential to human psychology as it helps structure our time, makes tough decisions easier, offers a yardstick to measure progress against personal values, and enables us to live our values tangibly. However, not all goals are created equally; good goals share a particular architecture outlined by the SMART acronym. Research from positive psychologists also suggests that power-related goals are toxic to personal satisfaction. In contrast, those related to affiliation, generativity, and spirituality appear to promote wellbeing.


To increase optimism in individuals, paying attention to the realism of goals when working with people or developing your own optimism is crucial. Other features of goal-setting include the language used when discussing them, emotional intensity and theme – all of which offer potential avenues for questioning and encouragement that can increase hope.


Pathways thinking refers to creative problem-solving skills that enable individuals with an optimistic outlook on life always find new solutions when obstacles arise. As a manager or coach working with people who need help fostering pathways thinking skills, you should facilitate this skill by asking powerful open-ended questions such as “What else might you do here?” “What have other people done in similar situations?” “Name three things you might do to address this problem?”. These queries spark new lines of solution-focused thinking, which helps individuals become better at navigating challenges effectively.


Brainstorming is another effective tool used by managers or consultants where participants generate ideas ranging from mundane to fantastic ones through silly suggestions until they produce creative lists more thorough than anything they could have come up with individually.


The final component of Hope Theory is agency thinking, which is the belief that individuals can achieve their objectives. Self-confidence is a core feature of optimistic people; boosting it should be easy. Conversely, people with low self-esteem are less likely to work hard, persevere in the face of hardship or take risks that could lead to success. Two simple methods for boosting self-confidence are acknowledging the strengths and successes of people we work with and focusing on core client strengths rather than in-the-moment achievements.


Acknowledging core strengths and virtues can stroke egos authentically and raise self-esteem, boosting optimism. The second confidence booster is a formal “solutions focus” approach to psychotherapy developed by Insoo Kim Berg and Steve de Shazer that focuses on past successes rather than failures as a way to learn how to cope with current problems.


In conclusion, positive psychology interventions aren’t one-size-fits-all, but some clients resist them; hence it’s essential not to beat oneself up if an intervention fails or a client resists it. Instead, try something new, get creative while working in alliance with your client, and you will find a way together.


History of optimism 

Optimism has been described as a ‘Velcro construct’ as its correlates include happiness, health, and achievement. Early philosophy viewed optimism as naivety or simple denial of suffering; however, researchers have since found evidence suggesting otherwise – optimism isn’t just a form of denial but also an essential component for resilient individuals.


Two leading schools conceptualizing optimism are dispositional optimism (a personality trait relating to generalized outcome expectancies) and explanatory style (how one explains causes/influences of previous positive/negative events). Both schools suggest that the attributional style recognizes learned skills as opposed to stable personality traits.


In summary: Hope Theory offers three key conditions for hope: goal thinking (structure), pathways thinking (creative problem-solving), and agency thinking (belief in oneself). Positive psychology interventions aren’t one-size-fits-all, but some clients resist them; hence it’s essential not to beat oneself up if an intervention fails or a client resists it. Instead, try something new, get creative while working in alliance with your client, and you will find a way together. 


The Power of Optimism

Optimism is a powerful tool that can help us navigate through life’s challenges. Research has shown that having an optimistic outlook can lead to better health outcomes, improved coping mechanisms, and even longer life expectancy. In this chapter, we’ll explore the benefits of optimism in more detail and discuss how it can impact our lives.


Benefits of Optimism

One of the most significant benefits of optimism is its ability to predict active coping with stress. Studies have found that optimists are more likely to engage in constructive coping mechanisms such as positive reframing and acceptance when faced with challenging situations. In contrast, pessimists tend to be avoidant and disengaged.


Optimism has also been linked with better health outcomes. For example, optimists are more likely to engage in health-promoting behaviors such as exercise and healthy eating habits. They’re also less likely to experience postpartum depression or recurrent cancer.


Another fascinating finding is that optimism may play a role in longevity. Research has shown that optimists tend to live longer than pessimists on average. This could be due to their proactive approach toward their health and ability to bounce back from setbacks.


Locus of Control

Locus of control is another critical factor when it comes to optimism. People with an internal locus of control believe they have control over their lives’ outcomes. In contrast, those with an external locus believe they’re at the mercy of fate or luck.


Studies have found that individuals with an internal locus are likelier to work toward achieving goals, tolerate reward delays, and plan for long-term success. On the other hand, those with an external locus tend to lower their expectations and prefer games based on chance rather than skill.


Defensive Pessimism

Defensive pessimism is a cognitive strategy used by some individuals where they set low expectations for themselves despite past successes in similar situations. This technique helps cushion the potential blow of failure and allows them to focus on solving problems in advance.


Interestingly, research has found that defensive pessimists perform better academically, have higher self-esteem and satisfaction, and progress more toward their goals than equally anxious individuals who don’t use this strategy. Trying to change defensive pessimists into optimists is often counterproductive.


Unrealistic Optimism

While optimism is generally beneficial, unrealistic optimism or wishful thinking can be detrimental. This type of optimism can lead individuals to perceive risks as lower than they indeed are, leading to an optimistic bias in risk perception. Sometimes, this can leave optimists ill-prepared for traumatic events such as cancer diagnosis or heartbreak.



Lastly, hope plays a critical role in our ability to achieve our goals. Hope is the belief that many pathways can be generated toward achieving one’s goals (pathways thinking) combined with the determination to succeed (agency). Individuals with high levels of hope set more challenging goals but are more likely to achieve them.


In conclusion, optimism is a powerful tool to help us navigate life’s challenges successfully. It predicts active coping mechanisms when dealing with stress, improves health outcomes and longevity, and helps us achieve our goals by increasing hope. However, it’s important not to engage in unrealistic optimism or wishful thinking. Instead, practice positive realism or flexible optimism, where we assess both positive and negative outcomes realistically. By doing so, we can harness the power of optimism while staying grounded in reality. 

The three ‘selves’ in optimism: self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy 

When it comes to optimism, we often hear about the importance of having a positive outlook on life. But what does it really mean to be optimistic? Is it simply about being happy all the time? In this chapter, we will explore three critical aspects of optimism that are often overlooked – self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy.


Self-confidence is perhaps the most well-known of these three ‘selves,’ but it is also the one that can be misunderstood. Some people associate self-confidence with narcissism or arrogance. However, genuine self-confidence is about having faith in your abilities and trusting yourself to handle any situation that comes your way.


Self-esteem is another essential aspect of optimism. It refers to how you feel about yourself as a person. People with high levels of self-esteem tend to have a positive outlook on life and believe they can achieve their goals.


Finally, self-efficacy is the belief that you can succeed at specific tasks or goals. Self-efficacy is situation-specific, unlike self-confidence or self-esteem, which are more general concepts. It’s not just about believing in yourself; it’s also about believing that you have the skills and resources necessary to achieve your desired outcome.


According to the social cognitive theory developed by psychologist Albert Bandura, our beliefs about ourselves and our abilities are shaped by our experiences and interactions with others. For example, if we see someone else successfully accomplish a task similar to one we want to achieve ourselves, we may become more confident in our ability to do so as well.


Bandura also identified four other factors that contribute to developing our sense of efficacy: mastery experiences (actually achieving success at something), vicarious experiences (seeing others succeed), verbal persuasion (being encouraged or told we are capable), and imaginal experiences (visualizing ourselves achieving).


Self-efficacy is particularly important when it comes to making healthy behavior changes. Whether starting an exercise routine, quitting smoking, or managing stress, having a solid belief in your ability to succeed can make all the difference.


Of course, self-esteem also plays a role in our ability to make positive changes in our lives. For example, people with high self-esteem tend to be more optimistic about their future. They are more likely to stick with their goals even when faced with obstacles.


But as with everything else, there can be too much of a good thing. For example, people with unstable or fragile self-esteem may become defensive or aggressive if they feel their sense of self-worth is threatened. And while interventions aimed at boosting self-esteem can be helpful for some people, they can also backfire if they lead individuals to overestimate their abilities or become overly focused on external validation.


In conclusion, optimism is not just about having a positive outlook on life – it involves several different ‘selves,’ including self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. Developing these qualities takes time and effort, but doing so can lead to greater resilience and success in all areas of life. 


Resilience, Post-traumatic Growth, and Positive Aging 

Stress, Trauma, Resilience

Stress and trauma are two concepts that can significantly impact our physical, emotional, and psychological wellbeing. While stress can sometimes be beneficial when experienced in small doses, prolonged exposure can adversely affect our overall health. Trauma is an unexpected event that disrupts our personal narrative and can lead to long-lasting problems.


When faced with trauma or sudden change, individuals typically experience one of three psychological responses: succumbing to the stressor (also known as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD), resilience and recovery, or post-traumatic growth. Research shows that only a small percentage of people succumb to negative thinking patterns after experiencing trauma. So positive psychology asks what happens to the other 65% to 95%?


Resilience is flexibility in response to changing situational demands and the ability to bounce back from negative emotional experiences. It encompasses recovery, resistance, and reconfiguration. Recovery refers to returning to baseline levels of functioning, while resistance is shown when individuals demonstrate no signs of disturbance after experiencing traumatic events.


Reconfiguration is similar to post-traumatic growth (PTG). The components identified as facilitators of resilience include reframing, experiencing positive emotions regularly, participating in physical activity regularly, having trusted social support networks available when needed most, and using personal strengths authentically; optimistic explanatory styles are essential for developing resilience.


Risk factors associated with non-resilient individuals include low birth weight and socio-economic status (SES), low maternal education levels, plus unstable family structures often increase the effects on those who experience traumatic events negatively.


Individuals must develop an optimistic explanatory style by identifying thinking traps they tend toward engaging with those thoughts more constructively. Common thinking traps include jumping to conclusions, tunnel visioning into one specific detail without acknowledging others around them; magnifying negative details while minimizing positive ones; personalizing blame rather than accepting responsibility; overgeneralizing minor setbacks; engaging in mind-reading; and using unhelpful emotional reasoning.


Resilience and the body 

The Holocaust has left survivors and those left behind with tremendous resilience and growth in the face of adversity. Even decades later, survivors from the prison camps show significant physical health functioning (salutogenic) versus illness-inducing (pathogenic) outcomes. Salutogenesis is linked to a sense of coherence or SOC, developed by Antonovsky to understand why some people are less likely to be affected by stressful environments than others.


SOC is defined as a global orientation expressing the extent to which one has a persuasive, enduring, dynamic feeling of confidence that stimuli deriving from one’s internal and external environments in the course of living are structured, predictable, and explicable. Resources are available to meet demands posed by these stimuli; challenges are worthy of investment and engagement. Comprehensibility refers to insight into achievement and difficulties; manageability refers to the high probability things will work out reasonably well as expected; meaningfulness is the motivational belief that it makes emotional sense for coping.


Coping styles 

Coping strategies include problem-focused coping, where individuals identify stressors actively engaging with them head-on or emotion-focused coping, focusing on dealing with emotions surrounding situations rather than attempting change or dealing directly with problems themselves.


Newer research shows that emotion-focused coping can have positive consequences, such as healthy distractions, when avoidance was once seen negatively but now not so much anymore. Moreover, self-sacrifice for the greater good is common throughout humanity with Judaeo-Christian religions based on sacrificing one man’s life for all humankind.


Post-traumatic growth (PTG) within positive psychology looks at how dealing with trauma indirectly rather than directly results in a person becoming better, stronger, and having higher functioning levels than before a traumatic event occurred. PTG exists within samples of survivors of war, grief, cancer, and many atrocities.


PTG is divided into five domains: personal strength, relating to others, appreciation for life, new possibilities, and spiritual change. Personal strength is when trauma survivors report becoming stronger, deeper, more authentic, confident, open, empathetic, creative, alive, mature, humanitarian, special, humble, and so on. Relating to others is when people report becoming closer to their immediate and extended families while friendships bind tighter.


Appreciation for life is when trauma highlights vulnerability fact we are not invincible allowing reflection on more profound issues such as mortality, spirituality, meaning, and purpose in life. New possibilities are when individuals change their goals, re-enroll in schooling, gain a degree, and obtain new skills. Spiritual change is when people may return to their previous (or alternative) faith actively participate in church and pray.


In conclusion, stress and trauma can have lasting effects on our mental health and physical wellbeing. However, developing resilience can help us overcome these challenges by giving us the tools to bounce back from negative experiences that may arise throughout our lives. By focusing on reframing our thoughts around adversity through the use of positive emotions, regularly participating in physical activity, having trusted social support networks available, using personal strengths authentically, using optimistic explanatory styles as well as engaging with constructive thinking patterns during difficult times, we can cultivate the resilience needed to thrive even in the face of adversity.


Criticisms of PTG 

As with any theory or concept, post-traumatic growth (PTG) has faced its share of criticisms. Some researchers have posited that trauma survivors are merely experiencing a form of cognitive dissonance or positive illusion. According to this perspective, individuals may rationalize their traumatic experiences to maintain equilibrium within their psyche. While positive illusions can potentially benefit survivors, as they create positive illusions about their traumatic situation to explain and move on, this theory postulates that humans must find a reason for it; otherwise, it would be too hard to comprehend.


Critics have also come in the form of the tyranny of positive thinking. While some people can find something beneficial out of their struggle with adversity, not everyone can achieve PTG, which is okay. Furthermore, the argument appears counterproductive as it is simply the subjective sense of being better. However, if there is no apparent psychopathology and no detriment to anyone, and it seems beneficial on both psychological and physical levels, then researchers within the domain believe it is crucial to study it in its own right.


While some critics argue that PTG is simply an illusion or a socially desirable bias, they have yet to create measurement tools or agreed-upon definitions for identifying illusions or distortions.


The point of PTG is clear: It benefits survivors of traumatic events who experience it in the immediate aftermath of tragedy. Longitudinal studies have shown that benefit finding after losing a loved one predicted lower levels of distress 13 months later. This has been extended to lower levels of PTSD three years following a traumatic event.


Heart attack patients who found benefits immediately after their first attack had reduced reoccurrence and morbidity statistics eight years after.


Post-traumatic growth and benefit finding do not need to occur only in those with one-off seismic events either; individuals with arthritis with higher levels of benefit finding were more likely to report lower pain severity and activity limitations. For terminal patients, those that score higher on PTG measurements have been found to live longer than their lower-scoring peers.


Post-traumatic growth facilitators 

PTG researchers are currently trying to understand whether time and the objective severity of a trauma matter in the attainment and valence of growth. Additionally, those who are more resilient may not experience higher levels of growth due to their current levels of resilience. Those who can report immediate benefits have lower stress levels several months or years later. It appears that the reaction and attainment of growth are quite individual.


While PTG is not coping, there are links between coping styles and PTG. For example, people who use approach-focused coping (active and problem-focused coping) can engage in positive reappraisal, acceptance, seeking social support, and contemplating the reason for the tragedy.


Emotional approach coping is highly beneficial as a greater emotional expression in the immediate aftermath has been linked to PTG. Avoidance coping can be helpful depending on the individual, the trauma, and the length of use. Escape, avoidance, and healthy distraction can be necessary when dealing with trauma as long as they are not ongoing or the only form of coping.


How does PTG happen?

The transformational model (Tedeschi & Calhoun 2006) is a leading model of post-traumatic growth (PTG). Post-traumatic growth is the process of rebuilding around a traumatic experience while acknowledging it in a non-anxious way.


Shattered assumptions theory assumes that we all have an inner world where we harbor fundamental assumptions about safety and security.


Organismic valuing theory (Joseph & Linley 2008) assumes a person-centered approach where individuals overcome obstacles in their social environment rather than pre- or post-trauma personality to obtain PTG assimilation is when individuals keep their old worldview but initiate self-blame while accommodation modifies pre-existing schemas to accommodate new information.


The transformational model (Tedeschi & Calhoun 1995) is the most complete and widely used growth model. It posits that PTG results from excessive rumination (or cognitive processing) following a seismic event.


After the seismic event, the person is presented with challenges (for example, management of emotional distress). They must then engage in managing excessive rumination in three stages: automatic and intrusive thoughts, deliberate rumination, self-disclosure, and disengaging from previous goals.


Once these processes have been completed, the person can achieve PTG in addition to wisdom or ‘preparedness.’ This model acknowledges that distress can co-exist alongside PTG.


In conclusion, criticisms of post-traumatic growth exist as with any theory or concept. The benefits of post-traumatic growth are clear for survivors of traumatic events who experience it in the immediate aftermath of tragedy. Researchers are still trying to understand whether time and the objective severity of a trauma matter in the attainment and valence of growth. Coping styles have links to PTG but do not equal coping itself. The transformational model is a widely used growth model that posits that PTG results from excessive rumination following a seismic event which leads to cognitive processing.



Wisdom is the ability to make sense of life in a way that benefits oneself and others. It’s more than just having information; it involves coordinating that information and using it intentionally to improve wellbeing. While there are many approaches to wisdom, one thing is clear: age has little to do with it. Levels of wisdom don’t necessarily increase as we get older, but rather, it’s the experiences we have throughout our lives that lead us to become wise.


Aging Well

As we age, we must ensure we’re aging well. Studies have shown that higher physical, mental, or social activity levels can reduce the risk of cognitive impairment or dementia later in life. While certain factors like ancestral longevity or parental social class may not predict healthy aging, there are many things under our control that can contribute to healthy aging.


For example, not being a heavy smoker or quitting smoking early can significantly impact our health later in life. Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and investing time into meaningful relationships can all contribute to successful aging. As Lupien and Wan suggest in their work on positive aging culture, engaging with life and maintaining personal activities while also creating environments where you feel in control are essential components of aging well.


One interesting finding from research on aging is that older adults tend to experience fewer negative emotions while still experiencing similar levels of positive emotions as younger adults. In fact, they often develop greater emotional complexity over time – meaning they’re better able to understand their feelings and those of others.



It’s also crucial for us to be aware of stereotypes about aging – both positive and negative – and how they might impact us as individuals. For example, research has shown that positive stereotypes about older adults can improve memory recall, while negative stereotypes impair capability and confidence under stress.


In conclusion, wisdom isn’t something reserved only for the elderly – anyone can work toward developing wisdom throughout their lives. By engaging in activities that are meaningful to us, creating environments where we feel in control, and maintaining a positive attitude, we can all contribute to successful aging. We should also be mindful of the stereotypes about aging that exist around us and work on challenging them when necessary. By doing so, we can all strive toward a positive aging culture where everyone ages well and grows wiser over time. 


Putting It All Together 

Professional Development: Becoming a Great Positive Psychology Practitioner 

As a positive psychology practitioner, staying updated with the latest developments in the field is essential. Positive psychology is a philosophy that emphasizes personal strengths, happiness, and wellbeing. It is also a science that continuously evolves through research findings, new theories, and applications.


To be effective in using positive psychology, it is crucial to know where to look for information that suits your work and is written in a language you can appreciate. In addition, many sources are available for connecting with others interested in positive psychology and learning about the latest developments.


Professional development plays a vital role in becoming a great positive psychology practitioner. This involves learning new skills and updating expertise through innovation and strategy. Innovation is essential in professional development because it aligns with positive psychology’s philosophical side.


People who set themselves apart in positive psychology take existing assessments and interventions and blend or use them in novel ways. An example of this approach is the VIA strengths assessment, where people identify their top five signature strengths and then work with them. However, this approach does not reflect positive psychology’s most cutting-edge practice.


Instead, people should focus on identifying their next five latent strengths as potential constellations they can use with clients creatively. Innovation has the additional benefits of keeping work fresh and engaging for clients as well as adding value to your professional portfolio.


Many professionals attend workshops or training sessions teaching new skills; however, they often do not teach how or when to employ these skills optimally. Practical wisdom comes from accumulated experience by learning which aspects of positive psychology work best with which types of clients while considering when it might be better to talk about weaknesses instead of strengths.


Marketing Positive Psychology Responsibly

Positive Psychology falls into two broad camps: those who view it as an upbeat philosophy providing language tools for living positively, while others are skeptical, needing proof that it is bearing directly on productivity and benefits bottom-line outcomes before investing further resources into such initiatives.


To tailor language toward the latter group, it is important to understand them as a market and know the outcomes they value. It is also important to remember that research supports the effectiveness of tools in positive psychology. Based on this, there is a compelling case for marketing positive psychology responsibly.


In conclusion, staying up-to-date with positive psychology’s latest research findings, theories, and applications is vital for effective professional work application. In addition, professional development through innovation and strategy plays an essential role in becoming an excellent practitioner.


Marketing Positive Psychology responsibly by tailoring messaging to cater to values held by skeptical stakeholders while promoting the evidence-based nature of Positive Psychology will aid in its wider adoption.


Positive Psychology has garnered significant interest as people recognize its benefits for personal and professional growth. We wish you all the best as you continue your journey with Positive Psychology, surrounded by a community of bright-eyed and enthusiastic peers eager to share their learning and ideas over internet forums or conferences.