In the previous centuries, Western medicine studied health primarily in relationship to death and disease.  It is from that orientation that psychology evolved.

As there are now shifts in medical science, focusing more resources on preventive medicine, health maintenance, and anti-aging, psychology is following suit.  Moving away from studying the human experience from the focal point of pathology, dysfunction, or mental illness, this new arena in psychology is devoted to studying and promoting resources that enhance, support, and cultivate healthy emotional and relational experiences.

Positive Psychology is one of the most exciting and impressive areas of study to emerge in the past two decades.

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of human thriving.  The basic premise of this school of thought is that people want to live meaningful, fulfilling lives; people want to cultivate their highest and best; and people want to experience happiness in love, work, and play.

Positive Psychology is interested in what makes life most worth living.  It does not imply that psychology ignore or dismiss pathology, dysfunction, or mental illness.  Rather its value is to complement and extend problem-focused psychology.

Happiness is not simply the absence of depression, anxiety, sadness, guilt, anger, or fear.  Positive Psychology is holds the premise that “the good life” can be learned and expanded.

Three areas of study are now being developed:

  1. Positive emotions
    Including contentment, happiness, and hope
  2. Positive individual traits
    Including strength and virtues, capacity for love and work, courage, compassion, resilience, creativity, curiosity, integrity, self-knowledge, moderation, self-control, and wisdom
  3. Positive institutions/communities containing the elements of justice, responsibility, civility, parenting, nurturance, work ethic, leadership, teamwork, purpose, and tolerance

Positive Psychology is pursuing this research and development for the support of:

  1. Families and schools that encourage children to flourish
  2. Work environments that foster satisfaction and high productivity
  3. Communities that encourage civic engagement
  4. Therapists and healers that identify and nurture their clients’ strengths

For more information:

To also understand how working with a thriving perspective will help you in times of trauma and loss, click here: