05 Feb, 24

Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness and Well-being


Whenever things start to look a bit bleak, there is somehow always a light at the end of the tunnel. When it comes to the world of mental health, this light is known as positive psychology. But what does it have to do with the science of happiness and well-being? Are they related? Let us try to figure out the answers to these questions in this blog.

What Exactly Is Positive Psychology?

Positive Psychology is a section of psychology that grew out of the work of psychologists like Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in the late 20th century. It's different from standard psychology, which has mostly been about finding and treating emotional and behavioural problems. On the other hand, Positive Psychology tries to find and study the things that make people happy, healthy, and able to do their best.

Positive psychology emphasizes pleasure, life satisfaction, and fulfillment. This field studies the mental processes and events that give individuals meaningful lives. Scientists are studying what promotes mental health and well-being. It studies character qualities and strengths. Seligman and Peterson define character qualities as knowledge, courage, compassion, justice, moderation, and transcendence. Positive psychology helps people understand and cultivate these excellent attributes to grow stronger.

What Do We Mean By the Science of Happiness?

The multidisciplinary discipline of positive psychology, or happiness science, studies the cognitive and emotional aspects that affect happiness and well-being. This scientific study seeks to explain pleasant emotions, life satisfaction, and human flourishing using empirical research and scientific methods.

Studies of subjective well-being are central to happiness research. Cognitive judgments (life satisfaction) and affective experiences comprise subjective well-being. Psychometric tools and standardized measures quantify and evaluate these subjective components, enabling repeatable scientific study.

Understanding happiness's biological underpinnings requires neuroscience. This idea is studied in depth using fMRI and PET. These studies explain how brain structure and function impact happiness.

Is There A Relation Between Positive Psychology And The Science Of Happiness?

Positive psychology and happiness science are indeed linked. Positive psychology is understood as the study of happiness and other pleasant things. Positive psychology studies happiness to improve psychological well-being, life satisfaction, and good sentiments.

Positive psychology, founded by psychologists like Martin Seligman, seeks to identify and promote participants' strengths rather than their disorders. Character, values, relationships, resiliency, and health are evaluated. Philosophers and positive psychologists explore happiness and life meaning. Positive psychology investigates real-life happiness and related topics. It systematically analyzes happiness, life satisfaction, and mental health. This field studies the mental and emotional processes of happiness, what makes individuals happy, and how to improve their well-being.

Importantly, the science of happiness is a part of positive psychology that rigorously studies happiness's nature, causes, and benefits. Positive psychology encompasses many good elements of human life. Both professions seek to explain happiness and fulfillment. Positive psychology offers the conceptual foundation, whereas happiness science empirically analyzes happiness.

The 7 Habits Of Happy People

If you assemble some of the happiest people across the globe in one room and ask them what makes them happy, these seven habits are sure to repeat:

1. Building good relationships

Social psychology research demonstrates that good relationships boost happiness. Supportive, meaningful interactions increase emotional health and belonging. These interactions release oxytocin, a neuropeptide connected to relationships and social connections, according to scientists. Studies also demonstrate that those with strong social relationships can tolerate stress and have lower cortisol levels. Social bonds are a substantial predictor of life satisfaction, according to longitudinal research. Connecting with others activates reward-related brain regions. Good connections are crucial to happiness. Natural sociality and the benefits of friendship may help humans survive, according to evolutionary theory. Stress is mitigated by social support improving mental and physical health. Thus, good relationships are neurological and evolutionary processes that make individuals happy.

2. Being grateful

Positive psychology experts have found that gratitude boosts happiness. Studies suggest that showing gratitude often boosts happiness and positivity. Gratitude activates the ventral and dorsal middle prefrontal cortex, which regulates morality and rewards, according to neuroscience. Mindfulness and gratitude have been related to brain activity alterations and increased neural cell receptivity to positive information. The broaden- and-build idea states that being thankful helps you feel good, which builds psychological resources and strength over time. Gratitude is a quality that can improve happiness over time. From an evolutionary perspective, seeing and enjoying life's wonderful aspects may have kept people alive. Gratitude affects brain function, happiness, and long-term health, according to scientists.

3. Kindness

Positive psychology has extensively studied prosocial conduct or kindness. Scientific evidence shows that kind acts make people feel happy and develop new friends. A phenomenon dubbed "helper's high" makes people happier and more fulfilled after helping others. According to research, kindness activates reward, empathy, and friendship brain regions. Since it benefits both parties, helping others enhances health and strengthens communities. Helping others helps us feel good because evolution suggests cooperation and compassion may help individuals survive. Repeated acts of kindness increase pleasure over time, according to longitudinal research. Because of this, real-world evidence confirms the research that being nice makes you happy.

4. Mindfulness

Derived from Eastern meditation techniques, mindfulness improves happiness and well-being. Science says mindfulness is being more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and bodily experiences in the present. Brain scans demonstrate that mindfulness modifies brain structure, specifically in self-awareness, mood management, and attention regions. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and other mindfulness-based therapies enhance mood and reduce anxiety and despair. The underlying mechanisms involve brain circuit modifications that govern concentration, emotions, and self-information. Relaxation from mindfulness decreases stress indicators like cortisol. Mindfulness may have helped humans survive by improving their awareness and stress management. The scientific literature supports mindfulness as a psychological and physiologically healthy practice.

5. Setting and Aiming for Meaningful objectives

Positive psychology and goal-setting theory show that meaningful goals boost happiness. Science suggests that goals that fit your values and preferences may make you feel happy and useful. According to research, achieving goals boosts life happiness. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi invented the word "flow," which suggests that challenging, vital tasks can bring maximum enjoyment and well-being. Neuroscience shows dopamine helps attain goals and is produced when goals and rewards are expected. People and communities may have evolved through goal-directed activity. Scientists found that goal-setting affects happiness's psychological and physiological processes.

6. Maintaining your physical health

Science demonstrates that the mind and body are linked; thus, being healthy makes you joyful. A nutritious diet, good regular exercise, and enough sleep improve mood, cognitive function, and health. Neurotransmitters endorphins relieve pain and make you feel wonderful. Their release is connected to exercise. Neuroscientific research demonstrates that exercise grows new neurons and makes neurotrophic factors, which improve mental wellness and brain growth. Sleep helps you manage emotions, remember things, and think logically. High-vitamin and mineral diets help create neurotransmitters and calm emotions. The fact that the mind-body relationship works both ways emphasizes how vital health is for happiness. Some evolutionary theories argue that physical health and well-being evolved to help individuals survive and reproduce. Thus, scientific literature emphasizes the importance of physical health for happiness.

7. Optimism

Having a positive outlook on life helps with both mental and emotional happiness. Science says optimism implies expecting good things and seeing the good in them. Positive psychology research shows that optimistic individuals are happier, handle stress better, and are more resilient to challenges. Researchers revealed that optimism is connected to cognitive control and emotional management of brain activity. Optimists may employ mental processes to increase positive sentiments and block negative ones. Positivity may have assisted evolution by fostering persistence, problem-solving, and cooperation. Programs can boost optimism and improve mental health over time, according to longitudinal research. Scientists have shown that optimism affects various mental, social, and neurological processes related to happiness.

A Helping Hand

Like I said in the beginning, if things start to look a bit bleak, search for the light at the end pf the tunnel. The light can be many things, and it can be Zivanza for anyone looking for expert mental health professionals to speak to. Give us a call, and let us help create a safe space for you to create a better mental environment.


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