Positive Psychology has gotten a lot of buzz in the past few years but what does it really mean and how do you apply it? As a certified positive psychology practitioner, I have experienced the benefits of positive psychology in my own life and have seen the impact on others within my coaching practice. In this blog, we try to give you some key information and tactics so you can apply positive psychology in your life to be less stressed, more fulfilled, and simply happier.

What is positive psychology?

Joy, happiness and all positive experiences is the main focus of positive psychology. The founder, Martin Seligman, describes positive psychology as the, “scientific study of optimal human functioning [that] aims to discover and promote the factors that allow individuals and communities to thrive.” In reading this, the word that sticks out for me thrive, which means to flourish and prosper. If focusing on optimal human functioning will enable us to flourish and prosper, then what prevents us from focusing here?

We are hard-wired to protect ourselves. In our early human form (think cavewoman days here), this meant being aware of physical threats so that we don’t die. Nowadays, threats come in many forms. One example might be receiving feedback that you need to improve your communication skills. We leave that feedback session internalizing this threat allowing our brains to go wild, which takes us down the ‘what if’ road. What if I don’t learn this important skill? I will not get that new project, I will not get a promotion, or worse, I will get fired. These are the thoughts that quickly come to mind making that feedback feel like a real threat to our well-being.

Positive Psychology focuses on the positive experiences. If we use the example above, we could use positive psychology to shift our feeling of failure (and doomsday) around our communication skills to a feeling of being capable of improving with the strengths we already have.

While the example above is focused on the individual level, positive psychology can be viewed on a group level as well. Think about how you see your team. Do you praise and celebrate their successes and strengths while also helping them use those collective strengths to make improvements? Maybe this feels like a dream land and you aren’t yet convinced positive psychology works. There are tangible benefits of positive psychology.

What are the benefits of positive psychology?

A main element of positive psychology is the focus on what we do well, or our strengths. A significant amount of data shows that when individuals go through strengths coaching, they become more confident, have a higher energy and enthusiasm for life and ultimately become more resilient. Using assessments such as CliftonStrengths help to identify the areas where we have the greatest potential for building strength. This doesn’t mean we ignore weaknesses or areas of improvement. However, by knowing where we have potential can have significant and long-term impacts on how we approach our work, our teams, and our own personal development. In fact, Gallup found that when people have the opportunity to use their strengths, they are six times as likely to be engaged in their job, six times as likely to strongly agree that they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day and three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life!

Sounds like focusing on strengths make people happier. Guess what? Happiness is also a focus of positive psychology. While there are far too many happiness benefits to list here, let’s take an opportunity to look at some benefits through an organizational lens. Research by Lybomirsky, King and Diener (2005) shows that when people are happy, they are more likely to:

Based on this one study, happy people at work results in great benefits for the organization. So, how to we integrate positive psychology in our lives and work so we can reap these benefits?? Read on, my friend!

How can I apply positive psychology?

There are a lot of intentional activities you can do to increase your life satisfaction.

We challenge you this month to take a hard look at whether you focus more on what needs to improve or more on what is going well. If you find yourself focusing more on the former, try to focus on what is going well, what your strengths are and how you can utilize them more in your daily life, and practice gratitude as a way to increase your happiness.

Follow us and/or register to receive these challenges each month in an effort to “CEEK a Better Way!”


Lyubomirsky, S; King, L and Diener, E. (2005). Benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin. 131, 6, 803-855.