The story of positive psychology started just 20 years ago with Martin Seligman, head of the American Psychological Association. The idea he considered was: What if every person was encouraged to nurture his or her character strengths, rather than being scolded into fixing their shortcomings?
He reorientated the entire discipline of psychology away from mostly treating mental illness and toward human flourishing, then used his authority to promote it.
MORE IDEAS FROM THE ARTICLE
The term “positive psychology" was coined by Abraham Maslow in 1954. Martin Seligman used this term to promote personal change through the redemptive power of devotional practices like counting your blessings, gratitude, forgiveness, and meditation.
It is expressly designed to build moral character by cultivating the six virtues of wisdom, courage, justice, humanity, temperance, and transcendence.
Martin Seligman insists on the value-neutral purity of the research on positive psychology. Yet even its fans say it seems to have some of the characteristics of a religion.
Philosophers such as Mike W. Martin say positive psychology has left the field of science and entered the realm of ethics. Science is a factual enterprise, not promoting particular values.
There is no major conclusion in positive psychology that has not been challenged, modified or even rejected.
Yet the fact that positive psychology is becoming more popular means that it gives hope, optimism and perhaps happiness to millions of its consumers.
Hedonistic: in order to live a happy life we must maximize pleasure and avoid pain. This view is often short-lived.
Eudaimonic approach: it takes the long view and argues that we should live authentically and for the greater good. We should pursue meaning and potential through kindness, justice, honesty, and courage.
To address the disconnect between happiness and deeper levels of satisfaction, researches proposed a model that characterizes people as falling into one of four well-being types.
The "science of happiness" was born as a result of Martin Seligman's (the father of positive psychology) endeavour to approach psychology beyond the idea of restoring normality in individuals and to look at happiness and contentment as ways to not only restore normality, but also to prevent and protect as well as potentially cure.
Positive psychology has three main areas: Generation of both short and long term healthy pleasures, joy obtained through the connection with others and happiness that comes from a meaningful life.