Positive psychology is a recent branch of psychology whose purpose was summed up in 1998 by Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: “We believe that a psychology of positive human functioning will arise, which achieves a scientific understanding and effective interventions to build thriving individuals, families, and communities.” Positive psychologists seek “to find and nurture genius and talent”, and “to make normal life more fulfilling”, not simply to treat mental illness. The field is intended to complement, not to replace traditional psychology. It does not seek to deny the importance of studying how things go wrong, but rather to emphasize the importance of using the scientific method to determine how things go right.
You don’t have to look far to see that positive psychology is being integrated into the more traditional techniques in talent management and development. People are looking for purpose in their professional lives as well as at home and companies are recognising that “happy” employees are more productive. With purpose comes ambition, drive, productivity and employee engagement so is it a surprise that this area of psychology is being explored. Shawn Achor suggests that we have things backwards, that the standard method of thinking is that if we work harder and have success then we will be happy. In reality the brain works the other way around, if you can create a positive environment then this in turn leads to better performance and success as the brain works more efficiently, faster and creatively.
If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average.” (Shawn Achor)
I urge you to watch this inspiring TED video and not agree with what he suggests. If not….let us know why.