By Robert Common, Managing Partner, The Beekeeper
The Benefits of Applied Positive Psychology
The goal of positive psychology is to build upon our character strengths in order to have a more satisfying and fulfilling life. Researchers in this field seek to identify which elements actually contribute to making life not just happy, but also deeply meaningful, as well as how to apply these elements in our lives to improve our wellbeing [1,2].
The components of positive psychology have been covered in our previous article; in this article, we discuss how positive psychology can be applied to our lives and the benefits of doing so, of which there are many [1-3]. Positive psychology has wide applicability to different areas, such as therapy practices, self-help practices, stress management, mindfulness tools, and education [5,6]. Listed below are some of the ways applied positive psychology can improve your life.
Focusing on the Betterment of Self
It’s important to note that although the focus of positive psychology is fulfillment, the application of these theories do not ask that you ignore negative feelings or thoughts completely . Rather, positive psychology practices are designed to help you recognise that although you have weaknesses, you have strengths as well.
Instead of hyper-focusing on negative aspects, these practices focus on how to recognise your own strengths and build them up so that you can be the best version of yourself. Through doing so, you will also give yourself the opportunity to become a more resilient person.
Positive psychology places a high degree of value on building strong relationships, because for many of us, the bonds we form through social connections are important for giving our lives meaning. This is corroborated by scientific research showing that people with higher rated degrees of happiness also had stronger relationships with family and friends [7,8].
How we communicate with others is important for self-growth and the development of healthy relationships. Prioritising learning a positive way to communicate and on developing social skills such as compassion, kindness, and teamwork can enhance your overall wellbeing.
Improving Workplace Environment
Improving employees outlook of their workplace environment is necessary for maintaining employees’ happiness and enjoyment. This change in perspective can also lead to improvements in how employees respond to their colleagues [9,10].
Positive psychology can be implemented in different ways to promote this, such as by making employees feel valued in their work environment. When people feel valued and important, they tend to work harder, perform better, and find more success in their jobs [9,10]. Positive psychology can help employees feel that they are valued as a priority over their tasks, resulting in a healthy workplace morale and an environment where both the employee and the employer feel good.
Positive psychology can also be used in the workplace to encourage employees to view challenges in their jobs as an opportunity for growth, rather than as an unpleasant experience. This change in perspective can help employees enjoy their work in a meaningful new way.
Tools for Dealing with Failure
Realistically, failures are going to happen in our lives. The fear of this failure is difficult for many of us and can prevent us from confronting challenging moments and moving forward as roadblocks present themselves. Positive psychology can change the way you perceive failure by providing the necessary tools for how to deal with failures as they come – that way, this fear can be less impactful and have less of a hold over your life . For example, rather than viewing fear as something to be avoided at all costs, you can see failure as a learning opportunity and a chance to grow.
Applying positive psychology does not mean that hard times won’t stop coming, nor does it mean you have to pretend they aren’t. However, it does mean that changing how you view failure can give it less power in your life. Applying positive psychology can increase the confidence you have in facing obstacles as they arise.
Improvements in Your Community
The overall wellbeing of a community is dependent on the wellbeing of the individuals in it. Communities can mean any gathering of people that are coming together for a common reason, for example, a community made of people with a common interest, a common purpose, or in the same profession. In other words, communities are composed of collective mindsets, so in order for a community to be healthy, the mindsets within it need to have traits and virtues that will influence it in a way that is positive and allows it to foster. If a community goes through a tragic event, all parts of that community will be affected. It’s important then that everyone within a given community knows how to react to a negatively impactful event so that their community can be resilient and thrive under pressure.
Positive psychology is one way to ensure that members of a given community are on the same page and are able to respond positivity and in a manner that maintains the structure of their community. Additionally, positive psychology can teach community members the worth of sticking with each other through good and bad times.
Beyond a Positive Mindset
Fostering wellbeing is the primary focus of positive psychology. Foundationally, at its core positive psychology differs from other areas of psychology because as opposed to focusing on addressing weaknesses and problems, its goal is to identify and build upon positive mental traits in order to improve wellbeing and satisfaction.
Identifying your strong character virtues, such as courage, responsibility, or kindness, is an important first step towards applying positive psychology. In addition, some positive psychology practices you can do at home to promote your wellbeing and nurture your own happiness include gratitude practices, allowing yourself to savor moments you enjoy, being optimistic, and challenge negative beliefs that you hold about yourself. Living a life filled with purpose and meaning is a large part of what it means to be happy.