The Power of Positive Psychology and How You Can Harness It

The Power of Positive Psychology and How You Can Harness It

via Psychology Today by Jamie Aten

Cultivating resilience has become exponentially more important for day-to-day life during the COVID-19 pandemic. The field of positive psychology is focused on fostering well-being and encouraging positive emotions to promote resilience and preserve mental health in the midst of difficult situations.

Yoshitake Takebayashi, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at Fukushima Medical University. Some of his research includes positive psychology, constructing models for predicting serious suicidal thoughts, evaluating the effectiveness and effect of cognitive action therapy, and preventing emotional impairment through well-being therapy.

Jamie Aten: How would you personally define positive psychology?

Yoshitake Takebayashi: Positive psychology is a research area that studies the function of well-being and effective interventions related to enhanced well-being. Well-being is broadly divided into subjective well-being and psychological well-being in positive psychology. The former consists mainly of life satisfaction and positive emotions, the latter consists of Ryff’s six psychological factors.1

Positive emotions can be classified as pride, sexual desire, nurturant love, contentment, awe, amusement, attachment love, gratitude, linking, and pleasure from an evolutional perspective.2 Psychological well-being is a positive psychological function that consists of six elements integrated through an overview of major health-related psychological theories: purpose in life, personal growth, environmental mastery, autonomy, self-acceptance, and positive relationship with others. Based on research on the functioning of well-being, several clinical interventions have been developed such as Positive Affect Treatment3 which focuses on the activation of positive affect systems, or Well-being Therapy,4 centered around improving psychological well-being.

JA: What are some ways understanding positive psychology can help us live more resiliently during COVID-19?

YT: According to research findings in positive psychology, it has been shown that focusing on well-being experiences, such as positive emotions, is important in the midst of difficult situations to maintain mental health. During difficult situations, people tend to focus on the negative information, but in reality, many of us experience well-being experiences to a greater or lesser extent on a daily basis. Surprisingly, even among those affected by depressive or anxiety disorders, 14-19% of them have reported experiencing very high levels of psychological well-being during their illness.5 However, in the midst of a difficult situation, positive experiences are transient and quickly disappear. Therefore, we need to strategically stay with positive emotions in difficult situations…

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