In the recent past, there was a feeling that the Science of Psychology was concentrating too much on mental illness and less on the more positive aspects of good mental health.
In the event, the movement of Positive Psychology sought to tap into the positive traits of the human experience â€“ namely happiness, individual virtues, personal strengths and selflessness.
Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explained the purpose of Positive Psychology, thus in 2000 – “We believe that a psychology of positive human functioning will arise that achieves a scientific understanding and effective interventions to build thriving in individuals, families, and communities.”
The aim of positive psychology is not just to treat mental disorders, and illnesses; rather it is to make normal life more fulfilling and to nurture the goodness, the talent and genius that already exist. It aims to identify strengths and then reinforcing them and making them work for the individual and the community.
Positive psychology seeks to shatter the myth of human fragility and recognizes the immense resilience of the human spirit.
Take for instance, the fact that an overwhelming majority of us, even when exposed to traumas such as war and natural disaster do not develop post traumatic disorder, that they are able to handle their stresses without adverse effect.
Positive Psychology principles have been used in the educational context to train teachers its skills and concepts to use for their teaching. Academic honesty for instance, was a subject that was seen to be influenced by identifying the positive traits of heroes.
In the workplace as well, positive psychology can be used to create a more positive work environment with workers getting the opportunity to use their own skills better and vary work duties. Application of the principles can result in a happier, healthier workforce and better productivity.
It is however argued that the Positive Psychology principles do not take into account the fact of individual differences. The â€˜one size fits allâ€™ approach as critics call it, may not work for a lot of us, they argue.
For the natural pessimist, for instance, positive psychology may simply not work, because their approach is geared to work in a defensive and pessimistic manner to produce results.
Positive affirmations of the self may be all very well but they may quite simply, not work for everyone. In fact for some people it may simply be a reminder of how actually unlovable they really are.
So to summarize, Positive Psychology can do a lot of good for many of us, and indeed any number of self help books are based on the concept; however if it does not work for you it is not your fault; your needs, may just be different.