So what is positive psychology? Positive psychology is basically the scientific study of what makes life most worth living. It’s the art of asking the question “what is right with you?” rather than “what is wrong with you?” It focuses on the idea that building of strengths are just as important as repairing the damaged parts. It is absolutely not a replacement for traditional therapy or psychology, but it is designed to work in conjunction with these other methods in order to create a more well rounded picture of health. It focuses on creating a sense of well being in the individuals it helps.  

Positive psychology is built upon 5 pillars of health that create the state that is called wellbeing. The 5 pillars are: 

  1. Positive Emotion 
  1. Engagement  
  1. Relationships 
  1. Meaning 
  1. Accomplishment 

Flow, mindfulness, and learned optimism are some of the areas of positive psychology that differentiate this practice from other forms of psychology. It primarily assists people in development the areas of life that bring about things like fulfillment, joy, meaning, fun, empowerment, hope, optimism, resilience, and all of those other “positive” things. Hence the name, Positive Psychology.  

Positive Psychology was the filler of a void in the psychology world. There was a lot of ideas that would now be considered outdated and almost laughable to modern day psychologists  as treatment options for the mentally ill. Such as bloodletting, and drilling holes in the skull in order to let out evil spirits that were trapped inside the head. As psychology grew from the study of the soul and spirits to treating mental illness as more of a medical condition, the field changed significantly by focusing solely on the problems that people had and attempting to remove barriers and issues from the patients lives in order to relieve them from their distress. Medication became more prevalent in the field and then the focus shifted to “what things can make people feel better?” Rather than just removing things that made them feel bad, physiatrists began assisting people with adding and implementing the things that they knew to ultimately make people feel good.  

A couple people who were huge factors in the history of positive psychology were Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. Abraham Maslow studied dominance in monkeys. His research led him to do the same thing but with people. He attempted to define what made a “good human specimen” and I guess that meant what made a “happy” human specimen. He was the first dude to begin studying the healthy human beings instead of the unhealthy ones. Maslow figured out all the things that make up these super functioning, happy, healthy human specimens and created the Maslows Hierarchy of needs featuring the 5 levels of human need which is super well known in the field for how relevant and useful it is for all types of patients and illnesses.  

Carl Rogers believed people seek self-actualization He thought everybody lived in their own reality. He also believed that helping people develop a sense of self and worth can help them get better. He thought it could help people if they focused on their self and moved toward actualization. He developed an approach known as person centered therapy that helps individuals become fully functioning people by achieving their own goals in alignment with their own value systems. This therapy tends to focus heavily on the things that make a person “feel better” and thus it’s application to positive psychology.  

So, there you have it…positive psychology in a nutshell (get it, in a “nut” shell….like as in “being nuts”…ok yeah you get it lol)

The take away from today is, if you’re current methods of therapy aren’t working and you’ve been focused primarily on the things that are wrong….maybe a shift to positive psychology could give you the sense of wellbeing that you are looking for.


Rachel D. Greenwell

@iamrockl on social


 InspireCorps: Origins of Positive Psychology. (2018, July 13). Retrieved January 13, 2021, from 

TestPrepGurus. (2012, October 10). What is Positive Psychology? Retrieved January 13, 2021, from