Who is the Father of Positive Psychology?

Who is the Father of Positive Psychology?

We must have heard the word “Positive Psychology” at least once in our lifetime. Though we generally overlook it, today we’re gonna discuss more it. Positive psychology refers to the study of life’s positive qualities such as mental well-being, happiness, satisfaction, etc. In short, it is the study of the elements that allow building a life of purpose for individuals to flourish.

The term Positive psychology came much later into existence when Martin Seligman, an American psychologist became the President of the American Psychological Association in 1998. And, therefore, he is often referred to as the father of modern positive psychology.

Before the term Positive psychology was coined, Psychology was all about finding what's wrong with you. This was because of the humanitarian crises in the period following World War II that all available psychology resources were directed toward researching and treating psychological disorders. And that’s the reason how the field of psychology came to operate within a disease framework. However, one good thing that came out of this framework was that fourteen psychological diseases that were considered incurable can now be treated. 

But, the failure to study the positive aspects like talents, strengths, etc. left a gap in the field and study of psychology. This is because of the simple fact that if a science deals with the fundamental question of human life, it is incomplete if it only focuses on the negative aspect and completely ignores the positive ones.

However, Martin Seligman in a TedTalks 2008, explained why he thought that Positive Psychology should not only focus on Mental Health but also on Mental Well-being. He said “Psychology should be just as concerned with human strength as it is with weakness. It should also be as interesting in building the best things in life as in repairing the worst, and it should just be as concerned with making the lives of normal people fulfilling, and with nurturing high talent as with healing pathology.” 


Martin Seligman spent years developing a theory of Mental well-being which is known as the PERMA model. This model comprises five elements that create the foundation of a flourishing life:

  • Positive Emotions;

  • Engagement;

  • Relationships;

  • Meaning; and

  • Accomplishments.


He also explained the 3 drawbacks of keeping Psychology only to the Disease Model:

  • Psychiatrists became Victimologists and Pathologizers,

  • They forgot to improve Normal Lives and High Talent, and

  • There was a lack of Positive Interventions.

The study of Positive psychology is what shifted the focus of psychologists and psychiatrists from mental health to mental wellbeing. This study presented the benefits that come with practicing positive psychology and we’ll discuss them in the comment section.


Benefits of Positive psychology

As discussed earlier, Positive psychology is not about finding the Wrongs and treating them, it is about finding the Rights and nurturing them. It is based on the fact that Positivity attracts Positivity.  

There are numerous potential benefits of practicing Positive Psychology and the most common of them are:

  • Change in perspective

  • Boost in Self-esteem

  • Develops and strengthens resilience

  • Improved relationships

  • Increased Productivity

  • Increased Success


Let’s discuss in detail how positive psychology can lead to these potential benefits:


  1. Change in Perspective: This is probably the biggest potential benefit of practicing positive psychology. It teaches us the power of shifting one’s perspective for the good.


A relatively small change in one’s perspective can lead to astounding shifts in mental well-being and quality of life. An action as simple as a little increase in optimism and gratitude can give you a radically more positive outlook on life.


  1. Boost in Self-esteem: Self-esteem is, in simpler terms, is your attitude toward yourself. It’s a person’s overall sense of his or her value or worth. The potential benefits of practising positive psychology also include an increase in self-esteem. This is because when we focus on positive things about ourselves, we feel more worthy.


  1. Develops and strengthens resilience: It is common for people suffering from mental illness to feel hopeless because they don’t often see or realize the strength within themselves. This presented an opportunity to build resilience. Positive psychology helps you discover this inner strength to restore or boost self-confidence to master your lives.

Let’s take a very recent example. This pandemic resulted in many job losses and uncertainties around the careers of many. It created an atmosphere of hopelessness and we have seen or heard in the news about suicides etc. There are many people who have become depressed, or facing some other mental illnesses. Positive psychology cannot magically eliminate problems. Problems will always be there, but it helps us face these challenges wh strong resilience. 

  1. Improves relationships: Harvard in one of the longest studies in the world found that there is a correlation between happiness and positive relationships. Positive communication not only makes your marital relationship and social bonds stronger but can also make your mind healthier. It makes you appreciate your near and dear ones and build personal strength. It also establishes the importance of gratitude, social connection, and kindness in living life at its best.

  2. Increased Productivity: If you think that positive psychology only helps you with your personal development, you’re wrong. Studies from this field have found that positive emotions potentially boost our job performance. All the positivity in the workplace can have ripple effects that could extend throughout the entire unit or even the organization.

That means, even a few positive people in your organization, potentially in the management, can make the workplace happier and a positive place. It cultivates better morale in workplaces, helps employees change their outlook to a positive one that allows them to enjoy life in a better way overall. It also improves the way employees interact with teams and clientele. You can also make your employees feel more valued which automatically increases the output by increasing their performance.