Meditation Training

Positive Psychology Vs Traditional Psychology

Blog Banners 2022 1
Introduction 153386934

Understanding our minds can feel like a maze, leaving many unsure which form of psychology offers the best insight for a happier life. While traditional psychology has long been centred on mitigating mental strugglespositive psychology emerges with an emphasis on cultivating joy and resilience.

Through exploring this article, you’ll discover how shifting focus from what’s wrong to what’s right could be your roadmap to wellbeing. Read on and unlock the secrets to thriving!

Key Takeaways

  • Positive psychology aims to build on what’s good in people, focusing on strengths and resilience, while traditional psychology often deals with issues and how to fix them.
  • The PERMA model is a key part of positive psychology; it stands for Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment.
  • Techniques like gratitude journalingmindfulness practices, and acts of kindness can increase happiness and well-being according to positive psychology research.

The Differences Between Positive Psychology and Traditional Psychology

The Differences Between Positive Psychology and Traditional Psychology 153386737

Positive psychology focuses on strengths rather than weaknesses, practicality over theory, and takes a holistic approach to understanding human behaviour. This contrasts with traditional psychology’s focus on treating mental health problems and analysing negative aspects of human experience.

Focus on strengths vs weaknesses

Positive psychology turns the spotlight on what’s right with people. It builds up the good things in life and helps make them even stronger. This way, we get to grow our happiness and use our best bits to tackle challenges.

Traditional psychology often looks at problems and how to fix them. But positive psychology says, “Let’s find your talents and boost them.” By doing this, folks can live fuller, more joyful lives.

Imagine you have a toolkit full of skills – that’s what positive psychology aims to give you. Instead of just fixing what’s broken, it adds new tools so you’re set for success.

Meanwhile, traditional therapists might dig deep into past troubles or why you feel bad. Positive psychologists cheer on your journey towards a better well-being by focusing on virtues like courage and kindness – the things that bring real sparkle to everyday living!

Practicality over theory

Positive psychology gives real tools to help people. It’s not just about ideas or theories; it’s about actions that can make life better. This approach looks at what already works for a person and builds on it.

The goal is to improve happiness, build resilience, and create a stronger sense of meaning in their lives.

Traditional psychology often asks “Why?” It tries to understand the reasons behind problems. Positive psychology asks “How?” How can we use what’s good in someone’s life to help them? It turns research into hands-on methods that boost well-being.

Next, let’s explore emotions and how they play a key role in positive psychology.

Holistic approach

Moving on, the holistic approach in positive psychology looks at the whole person. It doesn’t just focus on one part of a person’s life or mind. This means looking at how they think, feel, and act together.

Positive psychology understands that to help someone, you need to see all parts of their life.

This way of thinking includes personal reflection and talks about smaller steps within this bigger stage. It treats people as full humans with many sides to their lives that all matter.

This helps us understand why we do what we do and find ways to live better, more complete lives.

Key Concepts and Topics in Positive Psychology

Key Concepts and Topics in Positive Psychology 153386132

Positive psychology focuses on a range of key concepts and topics, including emotions, character strengths, resilience, motivation, and goals. These areas are central to understanding and promoting the well-being of individuals in the field of positive psychology.


Emotions play a big role in how we live and see the world. In positive psychology, they are seen as key parts of being well and strong. They help us bounce back from tough times and feel good about life.

Looking back with contentment, enjoying today’s joys, and having hope for what comes next are all vital.

Feeling these strong, happy emotions often can lead to a better life. It’s not just about smiling or laughing; it’s more than that. Knowing how to handle all feelings wisely is part of leading a full and meaningful life.

With the right skills, people can use emotions to grow stronger each day.

Character strengths and values

Character strengths and values are the building blocks for a good life in positive psychology. They help people do well and feel happy. These strengths, like bravery and self-control, are what we call “values in action“.

They show our inner goodness through our actions. Martin Seligman and other experts think these parts of us play a big role in making our lives full and rich.

Values such as integrity guide us to be honest and true to ourselves, shaping how we act with others. Knowing your own strengths helps you use them more and improve yourself. It’s all about looking at what’s strong in you, not what’s wrong with you.

This way of thinking changes how therapy works too. Now let’s look into resilience, another key idea in positive psychology that keeps us going even when times are tough.


Resilience is key to bouncing back from tough times. It helps people adapt well in the face of stress, adversity, or tragedy. In positive psychology, resilience isn’t just about being strong; it’s also about finding ways to keep going and grow when things are hard.

Positive emotions can fuel this power to overcome difficulties.

Understanding resilience gives us insights into how we can face life’s challenges with courage and come out stronger on the other side. Learning to be resilient is like building a muscle – it gets stronger with practice and time.

With this strength, you’re better equipped for whatever comes next—like boosting motivation or setting meaningful goals.


Motivation is the engine that drives us to reach our goals and find joy in our tasks. Positive psychology shows us how important it is to play to our strengths and use them for motivation.

It tells us we do better when we feel good about what we can achieve. We all want to be happy, succeed in life, and feel satisfied with what we’ve done. Positive psychology links these feelings directly with being motivated.

Knowing your character strengths and values helps you set meaningful targets. This gives you a clear path forward, making it easier to get up and take action every day. The next part of positive psychology talks about setting goals which are big parts of staying motivated too.


Positive psychology aims to enhance wellbeing and resilience by exploring concepts such as gratitude, forgiveness, and finding meaning in life. Its interventions seek to foster pleasure, connection, and a deeper sense of meaning for individuals.

Through scientific study and evidence-based practices, positive psychology aims to give mental health professionals the tools to promote greater happiness and optimal functioning among their clients.

As we explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology including strengths and virtues, it’s essential to understand how these concepts contribute to overall wellbeing. By delving into practical applications within therapy and coaching settings, we can see how positive psychology interventions can positively impact individuals’ lives while promoting flourishing.

Embracing this approach seeks not only to address deficiencies but also elevate individuals toward leading more fulfilling lives with enhanced resilience. This sets the stage for diving into key concepts in positive psychology that aim at creating a lasting impact on individuals’ mental states.

Theories, Principles, and Models of Positive Psychology

Positive psychology encompasses various theories, principles, and models such as the PERMA model, hope theory, flow theory, and the sailboat metaphor. These concepts provide insights into the factors that contribute to human flourishing and wellbeing.

Further reading on these theories can deepen your understanding of how positive psychology can be applied in practice.

PERMA model

The PERMA model, developed by Martin Seligman, outlines the five essential elements to human well-being: Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment. This practical framework aims to help individuals understand and apply these core elements to live more enriched lives.

Each letter in the acronym represents a facet of well-being, offering a comprehensive approach that goes beyond traditional psychology’s focus on pathology.

Evidence-based research supports the effectiveness of the PERMA model in enhancing happiness and overall well-being. It provides actionable guidance for individuals seeking to improve their mental and emotional states by focusing on positive emotions, engaging activities, meaningful relationships, finding purpose or meaning in life, as well as achieving personal goals.

The PERMA model stands as a valuable tool within positive psychology to guide individuals towards leading more fulfilling lives.

Hope theory

Transitioning from the PERMA model to hope theory, it’s important to understand that hope theory is a significant framework within positive psychology. It focuses on cultivating aspiration and achieving goals by emphasising an individual’s perceived ability to develop numerous and flexible pathways towards their objectives.

This theory is considered a therapy in its own right and can be used for practical applications in positive psychology, particularly eliciting specific behaviour changes and linking closely with the concept of lifestyle medicine.

Moreover, hope theory is associated with fostering greater happiness for individuals through the pursuit of meaningful goals.

Flow theory

Flow theory, pioneered by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in positive psychology, explores the state of flow – a mental state where a person is fully immersed and focused on an activity. This concept originated from sports-psychology and has since been applied to various aspects of life.

Achieving flow is linked to increased happinessgreater creativity, and improved emotional wellbeing. It’s about finding that perfect balance where challenges meet skills to keep individuals engaged and motivated.

As we delve deeper into the theories, let’s take a closer look at the PERMA model for understanding happiness – another crucial aspect of positive psychology.

The Sailboat Metaphor

The sailboat metaphor is a powerful tool in positive psychology, representing the complexity of human functioning. Rather than simplifying life into a pyramid, this metaphor compares humans to dynamic sailboats, highlighting the multifaceted nature of our existence.

Just like a sailboat relies on different components working together harmoniously – the hull, mast, sails, and rudder – our lives are influenced by various interconnected aspects such as emotions, strengths, values, and resilience.

Viewing life through this lens can help individuals better understand and navigate their complexities while emphasising the integration of different facets for overall well-being. This metaphor aligns with the holistic approach of positive psychology by illustrating how diverse elements work together to propel individuals towards greater fulfilment and flourishing.

Evidence-Based Research on Positive Psychology

Research in positive psychology has shown the practical applications of its principles in therapy and coaching, with studies and findings supporting its effectiveness. The evidence-based approach provides insight into how positive psychology can be used to enhance wellbeing and overall life satisfaction.

Applications in therapy and coaching

Positive psychology has practical applications in therapy and coaching. It focuses on the strengths of individuals, promoting resilience, motivation, and emotional well-being. Research shows that positive psychotherapy can effectively increase happiness in individuals with depression.

Integrating positive psychology into mental health interventions is crucial for successful therapy and coaching outcomes. By using evidence-based approaches from positive psychology, therapists and coaches can help clients improve their overall well-being and life satisfaction.

Moreover, a comprehensive framework has been proposed to provide a unified approach to positive psychology in therapy and coaching, emphasising the importance of combining traditional psychological practices with positive psychological interventions for more holistic client care.

Studies and research findings

Positive psychology has been the subject of numerous studies and research, yielding valuable insights and practical applications. Here are some key findings and evidence-based research on positive psychology:

  1. The capacity to experience positive emotions is fundamental to human strength, central to the study of human flourishing in positive psychology.
  2. Widely studied positive psychology constructs and programmes can be accommodated within an evolutionary approach toward a unified framework for positive psychology.
  1. Research papers have explored topics such as the benefits of positive psychology, emphasising its importance in enhancing overall wellbeing.
  2. Seligman’s definition of positive psychology as the scientific study of what makes life worth living has been widely researched and supported by numerous empirical studies.
  3. Studies have also delved into the impact of positive interventions, focusing on techniques that contribute to greater happiness, resilience, and a sense of meaning in life.
  4. Positive psychology research has examined the significance of giving back to others and its correlation with greater happiness for the giver, shedding light on altruism’s role in wellbeing.

Applying Positive Psychology in the Workplace and Education

Positive psychology can be applied in the workplace and educational settings to enhance overall wellbeing, productivity, and motivation. Techniques and interventions rooted in positive psychology principles can help create a more positive and supportive environment for employees and students alike.

Techniques and interventions

Positive psychology interventions offer practical techniques and strategies that can be applied in various settings, including the workplace and education. These evidence-based methods aim to enhance happiness, wellbeing, and positivity. Here are some key techniques and interventions:

  1. Gratitude Journaling: Encouraging individuals to regularly write down things they are grateful for has been shown to boost mood, increase optimism, and improve overall wellbeing.
  2. Mindfulness Practices: Teaching mindfulness exercises such as deep breathing, body scans, or meditation can help individuals manage stress, improve focus, and cultivate a sense of calm.
  3. Strengths-Based Approaches: Identifying and utilising individual strengths in the workplace or educational setting can lead to increased engagement, satisfaction, and productivity.
  4. Positive Affirmations: Using positive self-statements or affirmations can help individuals reframe negative thoughts, enhance self-esteem, and promote a more optimistic outlook.
  5. Acts of Kindness: Encouraging acts of kindness towards others has been linked to increased happiness, improved relationships, and a greater sense of connection within environments.
  6. Goal Setting and Achievement: Applying goal-setting techniques that align with personal values and strengths can lead to a sense of accomplishment, motivation, and purpose in both work and educational contexts.
  7. Character Strength Development: Focusing on character strengths like resilience, perseverance, kindness, or honesty can bolster emotional wellbeing and contribute to a positive workplace or learning environment.

Training and education options

Positive psychology offers various training and education options for educators, students, and practitioners. These options aim to integrate positive psychology principles into traditional psychology settings to promote holistic well-being. Here are some of the key training and education options available in the field of positive psychology:

  1. Positive Education Programmes: Educational institutions can adopt positive education programmes that focus on character development, strengths, and well-being. These programmes provide educators with resources and training to incorporate positive psychology practices into the curriculum.
  2. Workshops and Seminars: Positive psychology organises workshops and seminars for educators, students, and mental health professionals. These sessions offer practical guidance on implementing positive psychology techniques in educational and clinical settings.
  3. Online Courses: There are online courses available that cover various aspects of positive psychology, including strengths-based approaches, resilience building, and promoting mental wellness in educational environments.
  4. Certification Programmes: Professionals seeking to specialise in positive psychology can enrol in certification programmes that offer in-depth training on applying positive psychology principles in diverse settings such as schools, workplaces, and clinical practice.
  5. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Opportunities: Positive psychology provides CPD opportunities for educators to stay updated with the latest research findings and evidence-based practices related to well-being promotion among students.
  6. Integration into Existing Curricula: Educators can undergo training sessions to learn how to integrate positive psychology concepts into their existing teaching strategies, fostering a more supportive learning environment that focuses on strengths and positive emotions.
  7. Collaborative Learning Communities: Positive psychology encourages the formation of collaborative learning communities wherein educators can exchange best practices and strategies for promoting well-being using positive psychological principles.

Books and resources available

There is a wealth of books and resources accessible for individuals interested in applying positive psychology to the workplace and education. These resources offer practical guidanceevidence-based research, and actionable strategies. Here are some essential books and resources available:

  1. Positive Psychology in a Nutshell” by Ilona Boniwell: This book provides a comprehensive overview of key concepts, theories, and practical applications of positive psychology.
  2. “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor: Achor presents research-backed strategies for achieving success and happiness in the workplace through positive psychology principles.
  3. “Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well – being” by Martin Seligman: Seligman, considered the father of positive psychology, explores how individuals can thrive by focusing on their strengths rather than weaknesses.
  4. PositivePsychology.com: This website offers a wide range of free articles, assessments, and tools related to positive psychology that can be useful for both professionals and individuals seeking personal development.
  5. Character Strengths Matter: How to Live a Full Life” by Shannon Polly and Kathryn Britton: The book provides insights into identifying and leveraging individual character strengths to enhance well-being and success.

Criticisms and Other Definitions of Positive Psychology

Some critics argue that positive psychology overly focuses on the positive and neglects the value of negative emotions. Additionally, there are alternative definitions of positive psychology that emphasise different aspects of human flourishing beyond just happiness and positivity.

Common criticisms

Positive psychology has faced criticism for being overly optimistic and individualistic, neglecting the importance of negative emotions and experiences in human life. Critics argue that it dismisses the broader social and cultural factors influencing mental health. Here are some common criticisms:

  1. Overemphasis on positivity and happiness, disregarding the significance of negative emotions in a person’s overall well-being.
  2. Ignoring the influence of societal and cultural contexts on an individual’s psychological health.
  3. Focusing too much on personal strengths and virtues while overlooking systemic issues affecting mental well-being.
  4. Neglecting the role of adversity and struggle in fostering growth and resilience.
  5. Criticism regarding the potential oversimplification of complex human experiences into positive or negative categories.

Alternative definitions

Some critics argue that positive psychology lacks a solid foundation and often borrows theories from other paradigms. They believe the field has a convoluted view of human nature, making it less credible.

These criticisms raise questions about the originality and robustness of positive psychology’s theoretical framework.

Moving on to “Conclusion,” let’s delve into how positive psychology can be applied in various aspects of life.


In conclusion, positive psychology and traditional psychology offer distinct approaches to understanding mental well-being. Positive psychology emphasises strengths, resilience, and promoting positive emotions, while traditional psychology focuses on diagnosing and treating mental health disorders.

Both have their place in addressing psychological issues, but they differ in their focus and approach. Understanding these differences can provide valuable insights for individuals seeking to enhance mental well-being or professionals working in the field of psychology.

Ultimately, integrating aspects from both disciplines may offer a more comprehensive approach to supporting individuals’ mental health needs.


1. What’s the main difference between positive psychology and traditional psychology?

The main difference is that positive psychology focuses on people’s strengths, how to live a happy life, and find meaning, while traditional psychology often looks at problems and how to fix them.

2. Is positive psychology based on real science?

Yes! Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living. It uses decades of research and science-based exercises to explore fundamental aspects of a good life.

3. Can anyone use principles of positive psychology in their daily lives?

Absolutely! Whether you’re reading about it or trying out three free positive psychology exercises, anyone can apply these ideas to enhance well-being.

4. Are there specific careers focused on using positive psychological methods?

Sure are! You could become a coach specialising in this area or work within organisations using positive organisational psychology practices.

5. Has anyone criticised the idea of “just be positive”?

Some have indeed critiqued it by saying it might ignore real-life challenges but remember, applying positivity does not mean ignoring problems—it means focusing on strengths too.

6. Does learning about positive thinking replace going to see a clinical psychologist?

Nope! Experiencing emotions fully includes addressing tough times with possible help from a clinical psychologist; they can work together with the approach from Seligman’s research in enhancing overall mental health.

Positive Psychology Vs Traditional Psychology
Scroll to top