What is Positive Psychology and Why is it Important?

Why is positivity important? Until the 21st century, it wasn’t. We have a revolution in our midst. Positive psychology is the new kid on the block, facing off against 100 years of diagnostic psychology.

Science is quantitative. What the science of happiness asks is whether there is one number that will determine if a person is happy? “If you have this much A, you should be happy?”

Think about the dashboard of an airplane, is there one number that tells you how an airplane is doing? Well, it turns out there isn’t for us. There are a whole bunch of gauges, and depending on the mission of the airplane, you pay more attention to one gauge than another. So if you’re trying to fly from Chicago to New York as quickly as possible, then the speedometer is what matters. If you’re trying to get there as comfortably as possible, then the radar is what matters. If you’re trying to get there as economically as possible, then it’s the gas gauge that matters.

This article answers:

  • What is positive psychology
  • The amount of money you need to be happy
  • What will psychology look like in 2050
  • New psychology practices
  • New psychology theories
  • Why this is a big deal

Since 1999, American science has sought to answer stuff like “what is happiness?” “can we change our happiness levels?” and “how much money do I need to be happy?”

Modern psychology lends serious attention to questions such as “what is happiness?” “can we change our happiness levels?” and “how much money do I need to be happy?”

Timeline of Positive psychology showing how positivity became important by asking why Wisdom, Hope, and Creativity matter

Think of positive psychology as the science dedicated to researching how we can live our best life. Positive psychology calls for a switch in focus toward progress, strength, and happiness.

At the same time, it would be unfair to describe traditional psychology as “negative.” There is no such thing as “negative psychology.” “Negative,” in this case, simply refers to focusing on mental disorders and diagnosing the mentally ill.

Amount of money you need to be happy

We have known for over a decade that there is a sort of perfect ‘happiness’ salary, but more recently, a 2018 study from Purdue University used data from the Gallup World Poll to find that the ideal income point for individuals is $95,000 for life satisfaction and $60,000 to $75,000 for emotional well-being

  • Ideal income for life satisfaction: $95,000
  • Ideal income for emotional well-being: $60,000 – $70,000

What will psychology look like in 2050?

Normalization of therapy

A majority of normal people will tell you they go to therapy every week or two without a trace of shame. The future of psychological therapy will be much more “normal.”

The whole point of a psychologist is s/he isn’t supposed to judge you, yet when you walk out of a therapists office in 2020, you often leave with a prescription sheet that describes you to a sharply uncomfortable degree.

Something has to give.

The cool thing about the recent developments in psychology is how ambitious they are. Our generation wants more. Avoiding unhappiness is not enough anymore, and it is not likely to return to being enough in the near-future. Recent developments in psychology have moved away from curing diseases and toward studying happiness, thriving, and satisfaction.

Lifehacks and self-education

Learning psychology doesn’t have to happen in a classroom. It is enough to enroll in an online course.

British thinktank Demos came up with the term “pro am” to describe the surging new demographic of amateurs with professional abilities sourced from the internet.

Think of the guys who learn to build a car from YouTube.

By 2050, there will be millions of psychology pro ams who take their mental wellness into their own hands.

New Psychology Practices | 2020

The most famous “treatment” to come from positive psych has to do with gratitude. We call positive psychology treatments “keychains” since they are like keys that unlock a stronger and happier life.

Keychain benefits include:

  • + Happiness and Spirituality
  • + Intimacy at Home
  • + Productivity in your Routine

+ Happiness and Spirituality | The Gratitude Keychain

Real Life Example

This is a deceptively simple practice. The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology says that it leads to six months of increased happiness for both parties, on average.

You just write a one-page thank you note to somebody who wouldn’t expect it and then read it out loud to them.

This practice is reported to disconnect us from toxic, negative emotions. The study found that gratitude keychains also brings both parties an increase in measurable Spirituality.

+ Intimacy at Home | The Response Keychain

creds @Frank McKenna on Unsplash

Do you and your partner sleep together less than you used to? Does fighting seem unavoidable? Believe it or not, there’s an easy trick that is EVEN MORE effective at solving these problems than roses and chocolates (although a little romance doesn’t hurt!)

It is called active constructive responding or the Response Keychain

This is a technique for being a better listener.

When our partner comes to us with good news, it turns out that getting excited for her and responding with enthusiasm is only the SECOND best way to respond. The FIRST BEST way to respond is by bringing her back to that exciting moment.

For example, if your boyfriend tells you he wrecked a top-ranked player on Call of Duty, your goal should be make him feel as close to the initial feeling of triumph as possible. I might say: “What map was it on? What guns were you guys using? You should make a Twitch account and get a milli subscribers!”

+ Productivity in your Routine | The Laughter Keychain

Positive psychology in the workplace is important because it leads to happier and more productive workers, among many other benefits
creds @Austin Distel on Unsplash

Corporate team-building events don’t have to be like pulling teeth. Laughter Games with your office mates can bring everyone closer and bring physical benefits for the entire office’s well-being. The Laughter Keychain consists of a new kind of office games designed to disinhibit colleagues and bring teams closer together.

Laughter is the physical manifestation of joy and well-being. It’s a discharge of raw positive energy that can be defined as a psycho-physical reaction.

A few ways of using the Laughter Keychain are balloon fights, office video game squads, and office social events.

Laughter facts:

  • It uses up to 50 facial muscles
  • It uses around 300 muscles in your entire body
  • Fake smiles are called Duchenne Smiles, and they don’t use the eyes as much as real smiles

New Psychology Theories | 2020

Expect a ton of research into how positivity affects the brain. The science of the mind will enhance positivity in the workplace

According to former APA President Martin Seligman, subjective well-being is made up of three balances that we must maintain to develop deep, lasting satisfaction and to thrive in general. 

  1. The Pleasant Life 

refers to basic pleasures that come from the senses.

Examples: Eating good food, living an exciting life, and being mindful. 

2. The Good Life 

refers to discovering and routinely using your personal strengths and virtues to enhance your life.

Example: A depressed cashier who scores very high on Social Intelligence rearranges his priorities and habits so that his personal goal becomes making every customers’ interaction with him the highlight of that person’s day.

3. The Meaningful Life 

refers to the deep satisfaction that comes from feeling you are a part of something greater than yourself

Examples: Music festivals, religion, family, sports teams

Conclusion

Have you heard of these theories before? Drop a comment and let us know.

Many psychology aficionados like myself get too hung up on fallacies and disorders. This way of looking at the science of the mind makes it easier for us to accept ourselves as we are — equally equipped with Strengths and weaknesses.

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