Positive psychology: What is it, its techniques and what is it for?

Positive psychology is composed of scientific and practical studies that address both the strengths and weaknesses of the human being, although they focus on the former. Gratitude, second chances and reflection are some of the exercises that seek to reinforce and enhance   positive emotions .

Christopher Peterson, one of the fathers of Positive Psychology, defined it as “the scientific study of what makes life more worthwhile. It is the call of scientific and practical psychology to be as concerned with strengths as with weaknesses. As interested in building better things in life as in repairing what is worse. And  as much related to creating full lives in normal people as in curing pathologies ”.

This definition summarizes the essence of a type of psychology that has undoubtedly come to change the approach of many professionals in the sector concerned about finding alternatives to treat their patients from a different way to that used in a traditional way.

The creators and members of the European Institute of Positive Psychology are the main  references in positive psychology  and they assure that the highlight of this scientific study “is that it deliberately decides to  put its focus on what the person does have, in what he is doing well ”.

The basis of positive psychology

Like all scientific studies, advances in positive psychology are based on previous and current research on the subject. Many of them have been able to demonstrate that by focusing on their strengths, people obtain more energy, better results, more performance and power to build and make new decisions.

This is the foundation on which positive psychology and its scientific method stand. Because, unlike the pseudosciences with which it is often confused, positive psychology is based on a consolidated scientific method.

In other words, all models and exercises proposed by the authors have been previously studied and validated to demonstrate their effectiveness in a sector of the population. No technique is the result of chance or the placebo effect.

Positive psychology seeks to make people feel happier with their lives

Dafne Cataluña, founder of the IEPP, has accompanied more than 500 people in improving their well-being and eliminating that emotional pain that materializes in the form of obsessions, dependence, uncontrollable obesity, deep sadness, etc.

His experience allows him to affirm that “we cannot just reduce or remove this suffering, but the psychologist is also able to build new coping skills through the strengths that allow people to flourish and feel happier with their lives. lives ”.

In other words, it is not about “forcing yourself to be happy”, but rather knowing that unpleasant emotions are also necessary for growth and learning, as well as being an inherent part of being human.

However, Positive Psychology focuses on what does work, on the strengths of the person.

Some techniques of positive psychology

The “Sincere Gratitude” exercise is an example that illustrates how this method works. For positive psychology, the strength of gratitude is fundamental to our well-being and quality of life. In this observational experiment, the person should record each day for a week the number of times they say “thank you” and the non-verbal information of the people who have received the thank you.

The results can show that it is not necessary to say thank you so often because if we do it so often, others do not react. Rather, it is about looking for alternative ways to show that gratitude, so that it generates an impact on the person, on the person who receives it and on their relationship.

Sonia Castro, another IEPP psychologist explains the “Second Chance” exercise , also used in positive psychology. It has to do with the strength of forgiveness and consists of “a guided visualization for about 15-20 minutes to distance yourself from negative emotions and allow you to question yourself and increase the repertoire of adaptive responses.”

Another technique can be developed after remembering the pain caused by an assailant. The person imagines that he writes to tell him what happened, what he has done to him, how he feels and how he plans to take revenge. After visualizing the aggressor reading this letter, the person imagines that life has given him a second chance and writes a second letter. “When the strength of forgiveness is very underdeveloped, this visualization mechanism is less aggressive and very useful in personal development and emotional intelligence,” explains the professional.

PERMA method: A model of well-being

This model has been developed by the one rolled over by the father of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman, who affirms that there are 5 components that people who claim to feel happy have in mind:

  • P ositive emotions
  • E ngagement (Commitment)
  • R elationships
  • M eaning (meaning of life and development of goals that go beyond oneself)
  • A ccomplishment (Achievement of goals that motivates us to achieve)

According to the founder of the IEPP, Dafne Cataluña, “ knowing these components will allow you to decide which one you want to pay attention to in order to dedicate time to it , for example, if you decide that you want to increase positive emotions in your life, you can decide to dedicate your time to activities that instill those thrill and not others ”.

In short, positive psychology commits all its study, research and practice to direct the person in the search for happiness thanks to the development of their strengths .

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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.