Positive psychology - what's in a name?

Unfortunately, the name positive psychology would appear to indicate that everything else is negative psychology.  Of course this is not the case!  Traditionally, a major focus of psychology has been to relieve human suffering.  Relieving suffering, however, is not the same as flourishing. Most people want to thrive, not just survive.

Positive psychology is a branch of psychology as a whole, which focuses on the other side of mental health: well-being and what those people who report higher levels of happiness do different.  Mental wellbeing leaves clues, and there is a lot we can do ourselves to feel better, even if our situations may not necessarily change.

Suffering and well-being are both part of the human condition and psychology should care about each. Human strengths, excellence, and flourishing are just as authentic as human distress. People want to cultivate the best version of themselves and live a meaningful life. They want to grow their capacities for love and compassion, creativity and curiosity, work and resilience, and integrity and wisdom.

How do we increase feelings of wellbeing?

To start off, it is good to have a baseline.  Research has indicated that there are five building blocks that enable flourishing – Positive Emotion, Engagement,  Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment (PERMA™) – and there are techniques to increase each.


Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing questionnaires here that relate to each of the concepts of PERMA.  All questionnaires have been tested for vallidity (do they test what they are supposed to test?) and reliability (can the outcomes be replicated?), and have been published in scientific journals.