What is Positive Psychology?

Positive Psychology is the study of positive emotions. In this blog, we outline strategies anyone can use to increase their positive emotions.

There has been a range of interventions aiming the creation of positive emotion, wellbeing, growth, creativity and other desired outcomes. What has become evident is that interventions designed to reduce distress do not necessarily make people feel happier, just less distressed. Positive Psychology interventions help increase positive emotions and can complement interventions intended to alleviate suffering. The interventions aiming to increase positive emotions as a collective unit are referred to as positive psychology interventions (PPI).

As early as 1983, in a study, Fordyce tested the usefulness of a program which had been planned for enhancing happiness. The programme was called the 14 fundamentals of happiness. The participants were able to learn these 14 principles. The list of principles was comprised of the value of a busy life, social interaction, close relationships, valuable work, organising plans, credible expectation, orientation to the present, maintenance of honesty, as well positive thoughts.

This happiness program actually increased happiness. Even more so, the programme was successful in helping the participants discover new insights, and develop behaviours and technique for coping with any form of difficulty. A lot of other programs also have shown an increase in wellbeing without targeting a reduction in levels of distress. The size of the impact is comparable to other established interventions.

How are Positive Psychology Interventions different?

PPIs differ from regular psychology interventions. The typical interventions aim at bringing about a change at the cognitive level and are associated with the reduction of a symptom of a mental health disorder. However, PPIs do not depend on a symptomatic treatment or any quick reliefs. Some argue that Positive Psychology Interventions aim to get to the root of the mental health problem. These problems may be psychopathological disorders as well.

It is not difficult to find pieces of research and cases to confirm just how effective positive psychology intervention truly is.

What are some examples of Positive Psychology Interventions (PPIs)?

Now let’s have a look at some types of positive psychology interventions:

Savouring

Focusing on a specific experience while aiming to enhance the impact in an attempt to maximise happiness is the savouring intervention. The fundamental part of this principle is motivating the individual to take hold of all the small aspects of the experience. It can range from physical to sensory and includes the emotional part as well. As it has to emphasise on wholesome perception, it resembles the mindfulness strategy even though both of them have some difference. The savouring intervention may be linked to the routine activities such as eating, smelling and also observing. This can be achieved through a bit more orientation as well as focusing on what the person is carefully attending.

Gratitude

Steve Marboli put it aptly, as he said, “If you want to find happiness, find gratitude”. To be precise, it is the primary focus of gratitude based intervention. Gratitude can strike a strong sense of positivity in the person giving it as well as the person receiving it. These interventions can be classified into two parts: There is the self-reflective practice of writing a gratitude journal which you can keep to yourself; using it as an instrument of self-expression.
You can participate in interactive sessions where everyone actively expresses their gratitude to other people by saying “thank you” or giving out small gifts to show appreciation. Irrespective of the practices everyone adheres to, gratitude intervention has proven its value over time (Brown, 2015).

Kindness

Any happy individual possesses the trait of kindness. According to studies, happiness goes hand in hand with kindness. This is a positive psychology intervention which focuses on being compassionate. This can range from buying someone a small gift to participating in activities for noble causes. Kindness can reinforce happiness. “Pro-social spending” is an example related to PPI. This activity centres around buying a gift for somebody on purpose to show goodwill. The primary objective, in this case, is promoting happiness in the form of altruistic and selfless contentment.

Empathy

This form of PPI focuses on building positive emotion within interpersonal relationships. A strong bond at your workspace and home can give you inner peace. A lot of the activities revolve around self-love meditations and particular mindfulness practices. In these mindfulness practices, an individual has to create a positive feeling for himself and other people through having a more mindful connection to the present moment. Empathy-based interventions focus on constructing relationships working with effective communication and a broader perception.

Optimism

This intervention can help build an expectation of experiencing realistic positive results. The activities can best be described by an “imagine yourself” test. The test has participants noting down in what condition or where they would like to see themselves in the future. There is quite a few evidence which suggest that this is an easy task for most. The Life Summary Technique is one more optimism based PPI. The practice involves thinking that the individual is content with life and prospering. The individual also has to write a summary of his/her life based on the assumption.

Strength Building

Strength within the scope of positive psychology relates to internal capacity and value. If you are aware and acknowledge of a situation, you will find it harder to be depressed. The message coming from the strength based PPI is that it is within yourself that you will find the strength you need. This is what many psychologists refer to as “practical wisdom”.

Meaning Making

This intervention helps to comprehend the meaningfulness of things in life. It is all about what we can do to accomplish the goals we set out. Any individual who is confident and clear-headed has a better chance of getting the job done. In the theory of hierarchy needs by Abraham Maslow, the most significant level of human need comprises of self-actualisation and self-esteem. Both of them interrelate with discovering the true meaning of life. This PPIs involves activities such as finding meaning with daily activities and reflecting on one’s thoughts and emotion. The Meaning Oriented PPIs have been utilised to treat stress disorders, specifically PTSD.

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