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

The definition of optimism and pessimism
from Poetry from The Future

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.

What is Dopamine? The Motivation Molecule

Vaughn Bell once called dopamine the Kim Kardashian of molecules. It’s popular, sexy (?), and it just pops up where you least expect it.

Dopamine is often called the pleasure molecule, but that is the wrong way to understand America’s favorite neurotransmitter. In fact, dopamine is more like the desire molecule. You could even call it the motivation molecule.

This article is about a misunderstood molecule that secretly determines almost everything you do. Read on to find out more about:

  • What Dopamine is Used For
  • How to Have More Motivation
  • What Jordan Peterson Says About the Relationship Between Responsibility and Meaning

Oxytocin, not Dopamine, is the most aptly called “pleasure molecule”

What is Dopamine Used For

In 2009, scientists published a study that showed an extreme difference in motivation between rats with and without dopamine.

The conclusion of the experiment is that the dopamine-ful rats would develop cravings so strong that they would keep pressing the lever that signaled food until they literally dropped from exhaustion. Meanwhile, the dopamine-less rats would not get out of their little rat bed even for food or water.

The rats that had dopamine blocked were still capable of feeling pleasure if food was put in their mouths, they just lacked all will to live.

How does this apply to me? It applies to you, friend, because you live in the most dopamine-drenched time in human history.

Social media, junk food, and masturbation are all dopamine-intensive activities.

This is a problem because our bodies quickly develop a tolerance for dopamine, like with alcohol. Our body’s homeostasis automatically defends us from over-motivating. The problem is that this doesn’t stop at junk food.

If your dopamine pathways are overstimulated for too long, your motivation plane is destined to plummet and crash land in depression valley.

So what causes your brain to produce dopamine? The simple answer is anything where you anticipate a reward.

How to Summon Motivation

photo by @LievanoFreeman

Meaning automatically leads to motivation

Verse Lozano

Have you noticed how there are weirdos out there who don’t seem to dread going to the gym? Some people have so much motivation that they somehow don’t mind coming home from their 9-5 to stay up until the wee hours working on their side-projects.

Highly productive people have made friends with their dopamine glands. Sometimes, without even knowing what dopamine is or what it’s used for.

One surefire way you can infuse your life with chemical motivation is by discovering what brings you meaning. Meaning is a sustainable source of the reward feeling that is triggered by dopamine.

For many people meaning is the pursuit and/or maintenance of artistic ability, love, responsibility, or family. Let me know in the comments what other things I haven’t thought of that can bring us meaning.

How to Get Respect and Motivation at the Same Time

Jordan Peterson likes to talk about the relationship between responsibility and meaning. If you begin to accept responsibility over things in your life, you will generate meaning and therefore, align your dopamine homeostasis with things you actually care about and are good for you.

Meaning aligns your dopamine levels with healthy activities

If you embrace responsibility over something, this relationship becomes a tool you can use to boost yourself into a meaning-rich lifestyle. It doesn’t matter if your responsibility is over a child, a dog, or a manager position at the Barbie doll factory.

Before we talk about positives such as respect and meaning though, let’s just try to imagine the life of a very frustrated person who suffers without meaning and enjoys very little respect in his/her life for some one reason or another. The reasons don’t matter. What matters is that this person would obviously be better adjusted with respect and esteem. Likely, the person knows this.

Practical Applications

Philosophy without an application is pointless. So we have included two ways you can actually re-structure your dopamine balance.

These tips will help your body begin to crave productivity.

Get a Simple Elephant Agenda:

This particular agenda is better than others because it leverages positive psychology to propel you toward your long-term goals. It comes with a generous amount of blank pages in the back that let you express yourself creatively, loosely, and spontaneously; it includes a vision board and mind map in the front that keep you aimed toward your goal; and it includes random appearances of an elephant icon throughout the regular entry pages—when you see this icon, you are supposed to go back to the mind map and vision board in the beginning and reflect on your progress.

Learn What is Meaningful to You:

Meaning aligns your dopamine levels with healthy activities. Psychologists talk about the relationship between responsibility and meaning.

If you begin to accept responsibility over things in your life, you will generate meaning.

If you embrace responsibility over something, this relationship becomes a tool you can use to boost yourself into a meaning-rich lifestyle. It doesn’t matter if your responsibility is over a child, a dog, a company, or a job as a busboy.

Jordan Peterson’s Advice

Peterson uses the relationship between responsibility and meaning as a recurring theme in his bestselling book Twelve Rules for Life. He believes it is a valuable relationship to explore because it is so dang underrated.

Twelve Rules for Life offers psychology’s solutions to the mental health problems of modern society.

Peterson’s twelve rules are:

  1. Stand up straight with your shoulders back
  2. Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping
  3. Make friends with people who want the best for you
  4. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today
  5. Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them
  6. Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world
  7. Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
  8. Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie
  9. Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t
  10. Be precise in your speech
  11. Do not bother children when they are skateboarding
  12. Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street

Conclusion

Dopamine is a misunderstood molecule. Its use is not pleasure, but chemical motivation. Learning to recognize when your brain is launching a dopamine campaign on your affect can be a useful tool in your personal development arsenal.

If you want to learn more about psychology in an artistic way, check out our debut book on Amazon. Our books are made to feel like the paperback form of an educational YouTube channel.