Positive Psychology: Definition and Meaning

The subjective level of positive psychology is about highly valued experiences, such as flow and happiness as well as well-being, contentment, and satisfaction with the past, future, and future prospects (in the present). The capacity for love and vocation, interpersonal competence, courage, artistic sensitivity, persistence, forgiveness, future-mindedness, originality, spirituality, high talent, and wisdom are examples of good personality attributes at the individual level. However, the civic qualities and institutions that help people become better citizens are responsibility, nurturing, altruism, politeness, moderation, tolerance, and work ethic at the collective level.

What is Positive Psychology?

Positive psychology is the branch of psychology that examines and advances the better aspects of human nature. It has always been a component of psychological science, but modern living has made it even more important to pay close attention to psychology's positive features. The optimistic side of psychology is known as positive psychology.

Positive psychology, which complements psychology's long-term emphasis on weakness and sickness, is the scientific and practical pursuit of optimal human functioning. While the conventional focus in psychology has been on pathology, positive psychology initiatives are ongoing to change focus from obsession solely with healing the worst aspects in life to also fostering good traits.

Dimensions of Positive Psychology

Although there are a lot of potential topics of study in positive psychology, the new field has been broadly defined using a few basic aspects. Positive psychology focuses on three aspects of human experience that assist to define the breadth and orientation of a positive psychology perspective in order to foster talent and make life more rewarding.

  • Subjective Level − Positive psychology examines positive subjective states or feelings including happiness, pleasure, satisfaction with life, relaxation, love closeness, and contentment at the subjective level. Positive subjective feelings can also include positive self- and future-related sentiments like optimism and hope. Happy subjective states can also be the results of positive emotions like laughing or sensations of vigor energy, and confidence.

  • Individual Level − The study of positive individual qualities, or the more durable and consistent behavior patterns exhibited in people over time, is at the center of positive psychology at the personal level. Individual characteristics like bravery, perseverance, honesty, or wisdom might be examined. In other words, positive psychology covers the investigation of admirable qualities and conduct that have traditionally been used to describe "character strengths" or "virtues." Additionally, it can refer to the capacity for aesthetic sensitivity development, the capacity for creative expression, and the desire for perfection.

  • Society/Group Level − Positive psychology concentrates on the formation, establishment, and upkeep of constructive institutions at the collective or societal level. The study of good work settings, the formation of healthy families, and the construction of happy communities are all topics covered by positive psychology in this domain.

An Overview of the PERMA Model

A pretty popular and applied paradigm in positive psychology is the PERMA model. To understand this model in a better way, let’s have a look that Seligman created −

The abbreviation "PERMA" stands for Seligman's five dimensions of well-being −

  • P – Positive Emotions − Even if attempting to feel good on your own is not a particularly effective technique to improve your wellness, doing so is nonetheless crucial. Being in the moment and having good feelings is a component of wellness;

  • E – Engagement − A crucial component of health is having a sense of engagement, in which we may lose track of time and become totally involved in something we like and excel at. If you are not fully invested in anything you do, it is difficult to generate a feeling of well-being.

  • R – (Positive) Relationships − Humans are social animals, and our ability to thrive depends on our ability to connect with others. Our wellness depends on having close, meaningful interactions with others.

  • M – Meaning − If one cannot find purpose in their life, even someone who is deliriously happy most of the time may not acquire a sense of well-being. There is no substitute for the sense of purpose we get when we commit to a cause or acknowledge something greater than ourselves.

  • A – Accomplishment / Achievement − Everybody enjoys success, reaching their objectives, and improving themselves. One of the parts of genuine well-being is absent if we lack the desire to accomplish and succeed (Seligman, 2011).

Goals of Positive Psychology

Although it might be challenging, positive psychology can be used to coach with the best of intentions and consideration for others.

The following are the main aims of positive psychology in coaching −

  • Above all others, and all others indirectly contribute to it, is the objective of making a good difference in the client's life. The primary objective of coaching is to make the client's life better. Coaching in positive psychology is similar.

  • Increase the client's exposure to joyful feelings.

  • Assist customers in recognizing and honing their special abilities and strengths.

  • Improve the client's capacity for developing and achieving goals.

  • Create a sense of hope in the client's mind

  • Encourage the client's sense of well-being and happiness

  • Encourage the customer to feel grateful

  • Assist the client in establishing and preserving wholesome, favourable connections with others.

  • Encourage the customer to keep an upbeat attitude.

  • Encourage the customer to appreciate each wonderful moment.

Contemporary Positive Psychology

Cultural variations reveal more about each culture's capabilities and methods for pursuing and achieving good results in life. The definition of the good existence tends to broaden as the world becomes more complex. Positive psychology-based research findings are already impacting treatments that assist people in building on their strengths and realizing their potential for increased happiness and life satisfaction.


We require justifications for why we think life is worthwhile. Psychology must address how people may lead happy, fulfilling lives if it is to benefit all of humanity. These techniques may be used to comprehend and quantify the experiences that make life the most worthwhile. Psychologists have created instruments to assess subjective feelings including despair, rage, and schizophrenia.

In spite of the fact that many of the principles of positive psychology are not wholly original, the discipline incorporates a technique that prior methods lacked: the scientific method. The area of positive psychology is built upon a corpus of cumulative, empirical research.

Positive psychology has received a lot of research and is widely accepted. Although relatively new in terms of psychological theory, it has shown to be extensive and has the ability to provide psychological advantages to people and clients in a variety of contexts across many life domains (Seligman 2011, 2019).

Updated on: 02-May-2023


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