Positive psychology is predominantly concerned with human qualities and has become very important in psychological theory, research and practice. More interestingly, positive psychology has an interesting relationship to authentic faith traditions. Positive Psychology studies emphasise the cultivation of humility, compassion, contentment, forgiveness, acceptance, hope and optimism.
Theories and practices were initially developed by psychologists such as Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and Erich Fromm that involved human well-being or happiness. Recent studies have provided empirical evidence through positive psychology.
The cultivation of positive emotions has been demonstrated to undo the cardiovascular effects of negative emotions., such as fear, anger and prolonged stress. During stressful period, blood pressure, heart rate increases, as does blood sugar levels and suppression of the body’s immune system. Positive emotions have been shown to undo the damaging effects of negative emotions on our bodies. For further information, see article by Barara Fredickson et al.
Practical applications of positive psychology include helping identify individual and organisation their strengths and use them to sustain levels of well-being. Additionally, recent psychological work on gratitude and forgiveness has provided significant evidence between the cultivation of these positive qualities and subjective well-being.
According to Character Strengths and Virtues (CSV) handbook there are six virtues that are considered good, positive and beneficial by the vast majority of cultures and throughout history it is suggested the practice of these virtues lead to increased happiness when practiced.
The organization of these virtues and strengths is as follows:
- Wisdom and Knowledge: creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, open and willingly learning, perspective
- Courage: bravery, persistence, integrity, vitality
- Humanity: love, kindness, social intelligence
- Justice: citizenship, fairness, leadership
- Temperance: forgiveness and mercy, humility, prudence, self control
- Transcendence: appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, humour, spirituality
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