Best Positive Psychology Books | Positive psychology is quite a new branch of psychology. This branch of psychology focuses on how to help people prosper and live healthy, happy lives. While many other branches of psychology are concerned with dysfunction and abnormal behavior, positive psychology is concerned with assisting people in becoming more joyful.
The late Christopher Peterson, University of Michigan professor and author of “A Primer in Positive Psychology,” explained in a 2008 article published in Psychology Today that positive psychology is intended” to supplement and extend the problem-focused psychology that has dominated for decades.” explained that positive psychology is designed to supplement and extend the problem-focused psychology that has been dominant for decades.
History Of Positive Psychology
“Before WWII, psychology had three distinct missions: curing mental illness, making all people’s lives more useful and satisfying, and identifying and nurturing high talent,” Seligman and Mihaly Csikszenmihalyi wrote in 2000.
Shortly after WWII, psychology’s primary focus shifted to its priority: treating abnormal behavior and mental illness. Humanist thinkers such as Carl Rogers, Erich Fromm, and Abraham Maslow helped revive interest in the other two areas in the 1950s by developing theories centered on the positive aspects of human nature and happiness.
Here are a few different vital dates in positive psychology history:
- Seligman was elected President of the American Psychological Association in 1998, and positive psychology became the focus of his presidency. Seligman is widely thought of as the father of modern positive psychology.
- The first International Conference on Positive Psychology took place in 2002.
- In 2006, Harvard’s course on positive psychology became the most popular course at the university.
- In 2009, Seligman and Philip Zimbardo spoke at the first World Congress on Positive Psychology in Philadelphia.
Other influential figures in positive psychology include:
- Bandura, Albert
- Snyder, C.R.
- Dweck, Carol
- Peterson, Christopher
- Gilbert, Daniel
- Sheldon, Kennon
Since the idea was introduced, there has been a tremendous increase in general interest in positive psychology. Today, more people seek information on how to be more fulfilled and reach their full potential.
Five Building Blocks Of Positive Psychology
This path to happiness is hedonic – it involves increasing positive emotion. Within limits, we can cultivate positive feelings about the past (for example, gratitude and forgiveness), positive emotions about the present (for example, savoring physical pleasures and mindfulness), and positive feelings about the future (e.g., by building optimism and hope).
Unlike the other paths to happiness described below, this one is constrained by an individual’s ability to experience positive emotions. In other words, positive affectivity is heritable in some ways, and our emotions tend to fluctuate within a narrow range. Many people are genetically predisposed to experience little positive feelings. Traditional definitions of happiness tend to emphasize positive feelings.
An experience in which someone utilizes their skills, strengths, and attention to a difficult task. According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, this results in a gratifying experience known as “flow,” which people are willing to do for the sake of doing it rather than for the benefits they will receive. The activity itself is a reward in and of itself. Flow occurs when one’s skills are just adequate for an inappropriate activity in seeking a clear goal, with real-time feedback on progress toward the goal. Concentration is fully absorbed at the moment in such an activity, self-awareness is no longer, and the concept of time is distorted in retrospect, e.g., time stops. Flow can be felt in various activities, such as a musical performances.
Relationships are essential to happiness. The experiences that contribute to well-being, such as great joy, meaning, laughter, a sense of belonging, and pride in accomplishment, are frequently amplified by our relationships. Connections with others can give life meaning and purpose. Support from and connecting with others is one of the best antidotes to life’s “downs” and a consistent way to feel better. According to research, doing acts of kindness for others increases one’s well-being.
We are social beings from an evolutionary standpoint because the desire to connect with and serve others promotes our survival. Developing strong relationships is critical to adaptation and is made possible by our capacity for love, compassion, kindness, empathy, teamwork, cooperation, self-sacrifice, and other qualities.
Belonging to and serving something more significant than oneself can provide a sense of meaning and purpose. Religion, family, science, politics, work organizations, justice, the community, social causes (e.g., being green), and other societal institutions all contribute to a sense of meaning.
People pursue achievement, competence, success, and mastery in various domains, including the workplace, sports, games, hobbies, etc. People seek achievement even when it does not result in positive emotion, meaning, or relationships.
Each of these five components contributes to happiness, and it is sought out solely for its own sake rather than as a means to an end. It is defined and measured separately from the other elements.
The Best Positive Psychology Books
The Happiness Project
This is a unique book among the others. Instead of demonstrating what happiness or fulfillment entails, Gretchen Rubin tries to live it in her own life.
She tells the story of how she implements one new concept every month and tries to live it while going about her everyday life as an urban mother in New York.
The Little Book Of Stoicism
Yes, we’re talking about Stoicism. So it’s not technically a “positive psychology book.”
However, Jonas Salzgeber nails it when he says that much of positive psychology repeats the same things Stoicism embraced over 2,000 years ago.
This is not to say that positive psychology is simply copied, nor does it imply that it added no value.
Positive psychology scientifically validated many of the Stoics’ teachings. And it codified that knowledge into actionable steps, transforming them into anti-depression therapies, tools for peak performance, or just plain happiness and optimism.
All being said is that the greats of the past can teach you a lot about positive psychology.
You can also learn about the history and how the greats used Stoicism. Like Marcus Aurelius, the Emperor of Rome who never stopped seeking personal growth.
It’s refreshing and almost magical to me that you can use the same tools that the most remarkable emperors and philosophers of the past used in the past to perform similar incredible feats in the present.
Okay, we’ve got it. Positive psychology can make you happier, more optimistic, and more successful in your personal life.
But could it help your business as well?
Tony Hsieh attempted to do just that.
He designed his business to make both employees and customers happy. Happiness was one of his objectives and key performance indicators.
And it worked out well for him.
An 800+ million exit, likely more than a billion dollars in Today’s money, is nothing to scoff at. However, as positive psychology demonstrates and Hsieh states, money cannot buy happiness.
Martin Seligman was a pioneer in the study of learned helplessness. From there, and thanks to initially harrowing feedback from John Teasdale, he expanded to explanatory styles, depression, and “learning optimism.”
Seligman goes beyond optimism or even “happiness” in “Authentic Happiness.”
He is concerned with meaningful and whole lives. “Full lives” include:
- Finding more profound meaning in one’s life.
- Working while leveraging one’s strengths and skills.
- Enjoying pleasures.
This is the book for people who want to live full lives.
In a Nutshell
Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worthwhile to live, emphasizing both individual and societal well-being. It investigates “positive subjective experience, positive individual characteristics, and positive institutions.” It aims to improve people’s quality of life.