During its first century, psychology justifiably focused most of its attention on human suffering. Marked progress as been made in understanding and treating numerous psychological disorders - depression, anxiety, and phobias, to name a few. While alleviating suffering, however, psychology has not paid much attention to what makes life most worth living. Positive Psychology is founded on the belief that people want more than an end to suffering.
People want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play. We have the opportunity to create a science and a profession that not only heals psychological damage but also builds strengths to enable people to achieve the best things in life.
The Three Pillars
Positive Psychology has three central concerns:
positive experiences, positive individual traits, and positive institutions.
Understanding positive emotions entails the study of contentment with the past, happiness in the present, and hope for the future. Understanding positive individual traits involves the study of strengths, such as the capacity for love and work, courage, compassion, resilience, creativity, curiosity, integrity, self-knowledge, moderation, self-control, and wisdom. Understanding positive institutions entails the study of the strengths that foster better communities, such as justice, responsibility, civility, parenting, nurturance, work ethic, leadership, teamwork, purpose, and tolerance.