The “founder” of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, defines positive psychology as “the scientific study of optimal human functioning that aims to discover and promote the factors that allow individuals and communities to thrive.” Before positive psychology was started, most psychological studies were focused on the negative aspects of life. Because of the focus on negativity, there was a gap that needed to be filled. Martin Seligman found that when people focus on their strengths it can greatly impact the quality of their life for the better.
Seligman came up with the Theory of Well-being that describes the elements needed for a flourishing life. Each of these elements contribute to well-being, are pursued by people for their own sake, and are measured and defined independently from the other elements. The five elements are:
- Positive emotions
Positive emotions are believed to build our physical, intellectual, and social abilities. With the broadened abilities we become more creative and develop more skills and resources.
Engagement is all about finding flow. Flow is the experience of being completely absorbed by a task that slightly exceeds our skill level and requires us to stretch ourselves to a new level.
We have an inherent need to connect with others. High quality relationships seem to be something that set happier people apart.
To develop a deeper sense of well-being, it is important to focus on doing stuff that has meaning to you. Focus on your values when doing stuff. Focusing on stuff that is bigger than ourselves offers a deeper sense of satisfaction.
People who focus on achieving goals seem to have a better sense of well-being than those that seem to lack direction with their life.