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The Benefits of Positive Psychology

Getting Started

Positive Psychology is a relatively new and emerging branch of psychology that attempts to distance itself from the problem-focused and diagnostic approach that characterizes most of traditional psychology. It, instead, focuses on a person’s strengths and the potential people have to better their lives.

Positive Psychology, as the name suggests, takes an optimistic orientation toward life. It focuses on helping people find happiness and hope, build resilience to challenges they might face, and find purpose in their work. The concept of mindfulness, which is popular today, is an extension of Positive Psychology.

After World War II, the practice of psychology mostly focused on treating abnormal behaviors and diagnosing mental illness. During this time, humanistic-based psychologists, such as Carl Rogers and others, attempted to shift the emphasis from the disease model to one that emphasized a person’s potential with a more positive approach to behavior and human nature. You can see this emphasis in Roger’s and Abraham Maslow’s concepts of self-actualization, which is another way of striving to reach your full potential.

Though the humanistic psychologists of the mid-twentieth-century can rightly be credited with starting the Positive Psychology trend, the founding father of modern Positive Psychology is typically considered to be psychologist Martin Seligman. In 1998, Seligman was elected president of the American Psychological Association and made Positive Psychology the central theme of his term.

Since that time, Positive Psychology has grown significantly. It is the basis for much of the life coaching that is popular today. Most degree programs in psychology offer at least one course in Positive Psychology; some even have entire degrees in Positive Psychology. And, as you know, Positive Psychology is one of the two specializations offered as part of this MA in Psychology program.

So, in this discussion, you have the opportunity to explore this exciting new branch of psychology that will undoubtedly continue to grow and flourish. While there are many inviting aspects of this theory, you also need to keep your critical thinking hat on as you discuss the ideas. Not all aspects of Positive Psychology necessarily coincide with a biblical worldview. As you share your thoughts and observations in the discussion, don’t be afraid to challenge another student’s ideas if you think they conflict with a biblical perspective. But, of course, do it with grace and respect.

Upon successful completion of this discussion, you will be able to:

· Evaluate the advantages and potential disadvantages of Positive Psychology.

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· Textbook: A History of Psychology: The Emergence of Science and Applications

· Web Article: Positive Psychology

· Web Article: 7 Habits of Happy People

· Web Article: Spiritual Engagement and Meaning

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Background Information

Before participating in this discussion, read Chapter 18 in the textbook and the three accompanying articles on Positive Psychology.

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1. Read Chapter 18, “Prospects for the Twenty-First Century,” in your textbook, A History of Psychology: The Emergence of Science and Applications.

2. Read the following articles:

a. “ Positive Psychology ” on the GoodTherapy website

b. “ 7 Habits of Happy People ” on the Pursuit of Happiness website

c. “ Spiritual Engagement and Meaning ” on the Pursuit of Happiness website

3. Navigate to the discussion topic and respond to the following discussion questions:

a. What aspect of Positive Psychology do you find most interesting or helpful? Explain in detail.

b. What are the potential challenges associated with Positive Psychology given that it doesn’t emphasize problems or diagnoses? What weaknesses can you see in the Positive Psychology approach?

c. Which of the seven habits mentioned in the article “7 Habits of Happy People” has the most compelling scientific evidence that makes you want to know more? Explain.

d. How can you apply that particular habit mentioned in the previous question to your lifestyle values as a Christian?

4. Your initial post:

a. Should be 400 to 500 words.

Your postings should also:

a. Be well developed by providing clear answers with evidence of critical thinking.

b. Add greater depth to the discussion by introducing new ideas.

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