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3.1: Introduction to Positive Psychology

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    3.1: Introduction to Positive Psychology

    Learning Objectives
    • Describe basic terminology used in the field of positive psychology.
    • Explain theoretical models of health, as well as the role of psychological stress in the development of disease.
    • Describe psychological factors that contribute to resilience and improved health.
    • Defend the relevance and importance of psychology to the field of medicine.

    Positive psychology is a scientific and applied approach to uncovering people's strengths and promoting optimal functioning. It challenges the traditional focus of psychology on pathology and dysfunction, instead highlighting the elements that contribute to a fulfilling and meaningful life. This chapter lays the foundation for understanding the principles, history, and core concepts of positive psychology, setting the stage for deeper exploration in subsequent chapters.

    The Emergence of Positive Psychology

    Psychology has historically been centered on understanding and treating mental illness, which, while crucial, provides only a partial view of the human experience. In the late 1990s, psychologist Martin Seligman spearheaded a shift in focus towards the positive aspects of human life, catalyzing the birth of positive psychology. Seligman and his colleagues aimed to build a more balanced scientific discipline that explores not only what is wrong with people but also what is right.

    Core Concepts and Theories

    At the heart of positive psychology are several key concepts that guide its research and application. These include:

    • Happiness and Well-Being: Exploring what happiness is, how it can be measured, and the factors that contribute to a person's overall well-being.
    • Strengths and Virtues: Identifying and fostering personal strengths and virtues that help individuals thrive.
    • Positive Emotions: Understanding the role of positive emotions like joy, gratitude, and hope in enhancing life satisfaction and resilience.
    • Engagement and Flow: Investigating how people can achieve a state of flow, where they are fully absorbed and engaged in activities that challenge and fulfill them.
    • Meaning and Purpose: Examining how finding meaning and purpose in life can lead to greater life satisfaction and psychological health.

    3.1: Introduction to Positive Psychology is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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