I get a lot of sarcastic comments about positive psychology…how it's not "that useful" or "helpful to people living in the real world." As a Certified Applied Positive Psychology Practitioner, I noticed these comments were usually based on a misunderstanding of what positive psychology actually is.
Let's clear up the most common misconception: Positive Psychology is all sunshine and rainbows.
People hear the word "positive" and immediately think of a "pollyanna" type person with their head in the clouds, wearing rose-colored glasses, walking around without a care in the world. And not at all connected to reality.
Plus, there are people out there saying if you just think more positive, your life will be better. That's frustrating to hear if you've tried it and haven't seen any changes. And while I'm all for positive thinking, that kind of general advice (to think more positive) isn't really helpful. So, it's a reasonable conclusion to think positive psychology is all rainbows with no substance.
The truth is that positive psychology celebrates the full range of human emotions.
You see the field itself is the scientific study of human flourishing. Which means research is done to see if there are certain practices and tools that can increase life-satisfaction and well-being. Turns out, there are lots of them!
So positive psychology isn't about dismissing negative thoughts or ignoring reality, it's about exploring how to live your best life. Applied positive psychology is about implementing the practices that have been proven to increase life-satisfaction and well-being. Pretty cool, right?
Ignoring or repressing so-called negative emotions is not a part of positive psychology.
In an effort to increase well-being we look at strategies for coping with negative emotions not eliminating them. It's about being flexible enough to experience a wide-range of human emotions.
Before you dismiss positive psychology as some off-in-the-clouds thinking, consider how it's actually the study of how we can live our best lives. That sounds like a subject we could all support, don't you think?
What's your experience been with positive psychology? Tell me below!