Positive psychology is a relatively new area of study in psychology that focuses on the strengths and virtues that exist within people.
Unlike conventional psychology, which often focuses on pathology and dysfunction, positive psychology aims to understand what makes people thrive and flourish. This approach has led to a number of important findings about human happiness and well-being.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the key differences between positive psychology and traditional psychology.
A Bigger Picture
One of the key differences between positive psychology and traditional psychology is that positive psychology generally takes a more holistic approach.
Rather than looking at individual symptoms, positive psychology examines all aspects of people’s lives, including their emotional state, relationships, work life, and physical health. This broader perspective allows us to identify the many factors that contribute to happiness and well-being.
Weaknesses vs Strengths
Another difference between positive and traditional psychology is that positive psychology is more focused on strengths than weaknesses.
While traditional psychologists typically focus primarily on negatives, deficiencies, and things that need to be “fixed,” positive psychologists are more likely to try to build on people’s strengths in order to help them overcome challenges. This approach is often referred to as “the strengths approach.” You may also hear the same basic idea referred to more commonly as “positive reinforcement.”
Positive psychologists are more interested in happiness—and flourishing—than in mental illness. While traditional psychologists focus on diagnosing and treating mental illness, positive psychologists are more interested in understanding what makes people happy and helping them to achieve happiness.
This doesn’t mean that positive psychology ignores mental illness; rather, it views mental illness as one possible obstacle to happiness and well-being.
Practicality over Theory
Finally, positive psychology emphasizes the importance of interventions that are practical and achievable. Rather than proposing theoretical solutions that may be difficult or impossible to implement, positive psychologists focus on solutions that can be realistically put into practice—making it an extremely relevant topic for new coaches and coaches-in-training.
This emphasis on practicality has led to the development of a number of effective interventions for boosting happiness and well-being.
So, what are the key takeaways from this blog post? Positive psychology is a relatively new area of study that focuses on the strengths and virtues that exist within people.
It takes a more holistic approach than traditional psychology, and is more focused on happiness than mental illness. Positive psychologists also emphasize the importance of practical interventions that can be realistically put into practice.
Of course, no reputable good psychologist would suggest you think about, act out, and focus on only the good in life—balance is crucial.
Positive psychology was not created to take the place of conventional psychology, but rather to balance it out with a more positive perspective. For decades, conventional psychology has had a reputation for being somewhat negative.
This is not to say that there is anything wrong with a strong focus on mental illness—quite the contrary. However, it is just as important to balance this out with positive perspectives in order to achieve a well-rounded understanding of human behavior.