Positive Psychology: What it is & How it Can Improve Your LifeIn the early days, psychology was mainly about research. They wanted to understandhow reflexes worked (touch a hot stove… Ouch! Move your hand away), perceptionworked (I see an old lady… now I see a princess...) and how behavior worked (dogsees food… it salivates).When psychology started it had 3 aims: treat and cure mental illness, support‘creative genius’ or prodigies which back then may have been mistaken for mentalillness, and help every day people live better lives.Mental illness became a popular topic after WWI and WWII. Psychologists who usedto play in labs and give lectures all day had new career opportunities. They couldtreat people who were coming home from war plagued by mental illness.And poof…A lot of funding and money poured into studying how to fix what was wrong withpeople.Well in 2008, we now know A LOT about what is wrong with people. We havetreatments for most mental illnesses and even some cures. We also know a lot aboutcreative genius, but as a whole psychology did not know a lot about your every dayJoe.So in 1998 Dr. Martin Seligman created a new field in psychology… positivepsychology.Seligman spent most of his life studying depression and proved that depression islearned. Then he asked, what about optimism?For a long time, psychologists thought that if you took a person who was depressedand took their depression away, you’d have a happy person. But that’s not true.Just because you don’t have a cold, doesn’t mean you are optimally healthy. Justbecause you aren’t depressed doesn’t mean you feel vibrant, joyful and love yourlife.The field of positive psychology, sometimes referred to as the science ofhappiness, uses the same scientific rigor that has been applied to studying what’swrong with people and how to fix them, to understanding the breadth of humanpotential. Positive psychologists conduct research on things like optimism,resilience, grit, hope, joy, awe, strengths, happiness, flow, prayer, and humor.Anyone can apply the research that has come out of positive psychology into theirlives and careers. Practitioners such as psychologists, therapists and lifecoaches, use positive psychology to find what is already working with clients andhelp them build their strengths, find engagement and meaning in their life. Theyhelp them feel happier and more fulfilled.Positive psychology is different than “happiology”. We are not advocating peoplebe happy, happy, happy all the time. It’s extremely important to feel angry,frustrated and sad when it is appropriate. Positive psychology is about what Dr.Tal Ben-Shahar calls, “the permission to be human.” That is, feeling all theemotions that human beings feel as opposed to trying to tell ourselves we shouldbe happy all the time. It's about allowing yourself to feel all emotions as theycome up without getting stuck.