Positive Psychology has one iconic figure among many: Martin E. P. Seligman, born August 12, 1942. He is a psychology researcher and professor at the University of Pennsylvania. In his book “Flourish”, Martin Seligman, one of the creators of positive psychology, dissects the concept of well-being and offers us a quest: that of conquering it, that of improving our well-being at home daily.Positive Psychology

The austere president of the American Association of Psychology makes a bitter finding in front of all his colleagues: at 60 years old and at the top of one of the most brilliant careers of his generation, it is his 5-year-old daughter who reminded him what scientific psychology should have been for half a century. Together in the garden, they were pulling weeds. Instead of concentrating like him on the task, little Nikki threw the herbs in the air, sang, and danced. Accustomed to orderly and precise work, the teacher turns to his daughter and scolds her raising her voice. She leaves crying. But she comes back a few minutes later: ” Dad, I’d like to talk to you. ” Yes, Nikki?  ” Dad, do you remember how I whined all the time when I was four years old? At 5, I decided to stop. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve done. If I could stop whining, you can surely stop moaning all the time. ”

At this moment, which he describes as an “epiphany”, Martin Seligman understood one essential thing:

That one could miss life if one did not train one’s mind to perceive what there is rewarding and joyful rather than just focusing on hardship. And that the central role of scientific psychology should be to help everyone find that balance towards the positive, as Nikki did by herself (MEP Seligman and M. Csikszentmihalyi, Positive Psychology: An Introduction, American Psychologist, 2000).

Since the birth of modern psychology, one hundred years ago, the definition of “mental health” has been limited to the “reduction of neuropsychiatric disorders”. Ten years ago, 90% of scientific articles in psychology were devoted to disorders such as anxiety and depression. Biological psychiatry conceives serenity as a fragile balance of neurotransmitters always ready to go wrong. In this classical psychology, the individual is only the result of conflicts of childhood, of unhealthy instincts more or less restrained, and of biological forces that he does not control.

The new psychology announced by Seligman is quite different. It’s no longer a matter of helping people to go from -5 to 0 on the satisfaction scale, but to allowing everyone to go from 0 to +5.

Positive psychology is revolutionary in that it looks at what makes people happy.

Its purpose is to develop the capacity to love and be loved, to give meaning to our actions, to be responsible for what we can change, to be resilient to what we cannot avoid.

One of the most solid results of positive psychology is the demonstrated importance of our connection to others. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – the Optimal Experiences Specialist – notes that ” people are happiest when they are in the company of other human beings. The worst thing to do is to go home alone with nothing to do, and that’s what most people think they want the most! ”  (C. Wallis, The New Science of Happiness, Time, February 7, 2005, 39-44.) The mere pursuit of pleasure, according to Seligman, does not lead to sustainable well-being. What builds happiness is “ engagement ” – in a relationship, a family, a job, a community – or  ” making sense of one’s action “: using what you have best in to contribute to the well-being of others.

But the most important message of the new psychology is undoubtedly Nikki’s teaching: we all have a natural aptitude for happiness and, to a large extent, it is up to us to decide whether we will give it or not. his luck.

What to know about Positive Psychology?

Positive psychology is the scientific study of  ” what is good “. It focuses on what is healthy in the personality of the individual, which embellishes his life and gives it meaning.

Positive psychology enriches therapeutic work by focusing on well-being and personal development. It aims to highlight what is positive in the life of the individual in order to transpose and generalize to each area of his life.

Main Topics Addressed in Positive Psychology:


• Positive personal experiences

• Positive personality traits

• The qualities and gifts of the individual

• Optimism

• The quest for happiness

• Well-being and the factors that favor it

• Life quality

• The meaning of life

• Personal development (self-realization).


What Is Well-Being in Positive Psychology

There are two main types of well-being:

* Emotional well-being

• Looking for pleasure and positive sensations

• Positive Experiences

• Personal feelings of happiness

• Affects and positive sensations

• Personal satisfaction

* Psychological well-being

• Search for a life that makes sense/self-realization

• Fun activities

• Achievement of life goals

• Achievement and personal development

• The sense of control and efficiency

• Self-realization and its potential

Well-Being Therapy According to Positive Psychology

In its approach to well-being, Positive Psychology offers therapy. We call this: Well-being Therapy. It is summarized and applies as follows: (see the following schema/formula)

Changing thoughts and behaviors

(Cognitive-behavioral therapies)


Help the individual to change his life so that he feels a real well-being

(Positive psychology)

Well-being therapy consists of 8 steps, which are listed in the patient’s   ” Wellness therapy journal “:

• During the sessions, with the collaboration of the therapist

• Outside of sessions, in the context of everyday life

Well-being therapy is generally recommended in cases of depression, residual symptoms or prevention of relapse, generalized anxiety, lack of self-confidence, work-related stress, etc.

The Five (5) Components of Well-Being (According to Positive Psychology)

For Seligman, ” the theory of well-being can be summed up as follows: well-being is a concept, it is the object of study of positive psychology (and not happiness), it is made up of the following five measurable components. (PERMA): positive emotions (of which happiness and satisfaction in life are aspects), commitment, positive personal relationships, meaning, success. ”

And to add: ” No single component defines well-being, but each contributes to it. Some aspects of these five components are measured subjectively by self-evaluation while others are objectively measured subjective variables defined by what you think and feel, while commitment, meaning, relationships, and success have both subjective and objective aspects. ”

The fact that they are validated by this discipline implies that they have been the subject of numerous studies according to a scientific protocol. It is Martin Seligman who details them in his book “To blossom”. We are using author Martin Seligman’s book “Flourish” to write this paragraph about the 5 components of well-being according to Positive Psychology. We strongly advise you to read this wonderful book also in the context of the Science of Well-being in Positive Psychology.

The 5 Components of Well-Being According to Positive Psychology Are:

Positive emotions: Either happiness and satisfaction in life. Expression of love, gratitude, satisfaction, pleasure, and hope.

Positive Personal Relationships: ” What is positive is seldom lonely, when did you last laugh the last time, when did you feel last sense and purpose in your life for the last time? You have experienced last-minute indescribable joy While ignoring the details of these strong moments in your life, I believe I know the circumstances: they all happened in the presence of others. ”

My friend Stephen Post, a professor of medical humanities at Stony Brook University, recounts the following story of his childhood: When his mother saw that he was in a bad mood, she said to him,” Stephen, you do not. ” I do not look happy, why are not you going to help someone? ” Researchers who have subjected Ms. Post’s advice to rigorous testing have found that an act of kindness alone is able to generate increased transience of well-being with greater reliability than any other exercise tested so far. ”

Commitment: Has time stopped for you? Were you completely absorbed in your task? When we engage in an activity, a project, and time stops because we are one with the object, the self-concern disappears and it gives us a sense of accomplishment.

Meaning: Defined as “belonging to and serving something that you consider to be greater than your person.”

Success: Achieving one or more goals that are important to us, fulfilling ourselves, promoting our fullness. “If I have adopted this component, it is because it allows describing the better choices that the human being makes for himself when he is free from any constraint.”

As for the flourishing, it is based on the 5 previous fundamental components to which we add the following (6 additional characteristics):


• Optimism

• Resilience

• Vitality

• Self-determination

• Positive relationships

All this could be summarized by the sentences below:

 “I like learning new things” (commitment, interest)

 “How happy am I? »(Positive emotions)

 “I usually feel that what I do in life is useful and important. ” (meaning)

 “I have a positive feeling about myself. ” (self-esteem)

 “I look forward to the future in a positive way. ” (optimism)

 “I can quickly recover from the tests. »(Resilience + self-determination)

 “There are people in my life who really love me. »(Positive relations)

 “I keep myself healthy” (vitality)


In practice: How to act concretely to develop one’s well-being and to flourish? Follow these wise tips and make experiences! We will now see some “tips” and exercises to cultivate our well-being.

Write a letter of gratitude for someone around you.

In about 300 words, explain why you feel gratitude for her. Then make an appointment with her without giving him the object of your visit and read him your letter. Soak up the emotions you feel then. Your level of well-being will increase for at least a month.

The 3 good things:

Every night for 10 minutes, write 3 simple things you liked that day. This will allow you to sleep better, then you will increase your optimism because each day, your brain will be programmed to notice these sources of positive emotions and you will act unconsciously to trigger happy experiences.

Your strengths:

When we are aware of our strengths, we develop our self-esteem and we make life choices to use them. When we rely on our strengths, we are happier.

Do acts of kindness:

Kindness and altruism make happy and give a sense of connection with others and meaning. Start with an act of kindness a day.

Become aware of your power:

Some relational and educational systems may have left you thinking that you had no power over your life. Challenge this belief by telling yourself that through your choices, your words, your actions, your writings, your thoughts, you can change things. To comfort yourself in this mode of reflection, list each day what you managed to finish, to do, what went well and mentally connect the goal you have set (even unconsciously) and achievement. The affirmations are equally effective: “What will happen to me in the future depends essentially on myself. “I can learn, train and progress with each of my attempts. I am able to succeed in what I decide to do. ”

Give a purpose to your life:

People who have a reason to live, a mission, a goal that exceeds them, are healthier and live longer (a less cardiovascular disease for example). So, commit to a greater cause than you and be aware of this direction given to your life. Moreover, it develops optimism.


Walk alone (well) or in a group (even better), run, dance … Follow the number of steps you do a day (at least 10,000 recommended) because moving is a natural medicine for the head and body.

Focus on the positive emotions and make them last:

To trigger one of these emotions, ask yourself one of these questions: “What am I proud of? – “For whom and why do I feel gratitude? – “Did I do what makes me happy today?  – “What am I happy with? » – « What arouses my curiosity / interests me? » – « Who can I call at 4 o’clock in the morning and who will welcome me with kindness? – ” Have I told the people around me how much I love them? ”

Finally, do not hide unpleasant emotions. Verbalize them without violence or write them in a notebook of emotions and ask yourself what are the needs which you lack. Thus, you will develop positive emotions and heal unpleasant emotions.



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