5 Key Principles of Positive Psychology (Happiness Science)

Positive psychology has become increasingly popular over the past few decades.

This newer branch of psychology, having only been formally recognized in 1998, focuses on the positive aspects of life, and seeks to build joy, empathy, love, resilience, and well-being.

Many of us know today that it finds out the specific ways to make life more worthwhile by focusing on human strengths and virtues.

In comparison, traditional psychology mostly concerns itself with discussing and treating the illnesses and disorders of the human mind.

key principles of positive psychology
5 key principles of positive psychology

What are the 5 key principles of positive psychology?

The five principles of positive psychology, carrying the acronym PERMA, were developed by Martin Seligman, to focus on what makes people thrive. Seligman is considered the father of modern positive psychology.

Understanding these principles can help you find the skills to create a life of greater joy and meaning. They are the foundation for a more balanced life that includes both positive and negative experiences.

The five key principles of positive psychology are:

  1. Positive Emotions
  2. Engagement
  3. Meaning and Purpose
  4. Accomplishment
  5. Positive Relationships
PERMA: 5 Pillars of Happiness in Positive Psychology
PERMA: 5 Pillars of Happiness in Positive Psychology

1. Positive Emotions: First Principle of Positive Psychology

The Principle of Positive Emotions states that the more positive emotions we experience, the more fulfilling and meaningful our life is.

Positive emotions are those feelings that provide us with joy, contentment, and satisfaction. They are a vital part of the human experience, and play an important role in our overall well-being.

Positive emotions have been found to have a number of beneficial effects on our lives, including improved physical and mental health, greater life satisfaction, and increased creativity.

2. Engagement: Second Principle of Positive Psychology

The second most important principle of positive psychology is engagement, or a state of full involvement in activities that bring us pleasure and fulfillment.

Engagement can be defined as an “inner state of being” that allows a person to be connected to their surroundings, which can foster an appreciation for life and its experiences.

Engagement can also be seen as active participation in life’s activities and experiences.

It is also the process of discovering and appreciating the present moment. When engaged, we are more likely to have higher levels of performance, creativity, and lateral thinking (called “flow”).

Engagement is crucial for our optimal functioning and helps us forge meaningful connections, pursue meaningful goals, and savor life’s joys and pleasures.

3. Meaning and Purpose: Third Principle of Positive Psychology

We instinctively seek a sense of meaning in life; this is the driving force behind our thoughts and actions taking us through life.

The third principle of positive psychology is purpose and meaning.

Understanding the meaning and purpose of our lives can help us make more loyal and strong decisions, leading to greater satisfaction.

When we believe our lives have meaning and purpose, it offers us a sense of direction and commitment, even when things are difficult.

This principle applies to both individuals and organizations and can be used to improve the overall quality of life in both spheres.

4. Accomplishment: Fourth Principle of Positive Psychology

Accomplishment is an integral part of a life well lived.

This fourth principle of positive psychology emphasizes the value of focusing on the progress and process of our actions to achieve lasting accomplishment and fulfillment.

It provides the motivation to keep striving for our goals and to make a lasting impact on the world.

Success and achievements are vital for bringing us a sense of quiet pride and serene satisfaction.

Achieving success is more about how you go on your journey, and less about the final result.

It is about working with diligence and passion while remaining focused on the intricacies of the process.

With a better understanding of this, we may avoid getting bogged down when we fail to achieve, as well as not getting carried away by pride and hubris when we succeed.

5. Positive Relationships: Fifth Principle of Positive Psychology

The fifth principle of positive psychology is that of positive relationships.

Having meaningful and positive relationships is one of the essentials for a happy and fulfilling life.

Studies have shown that people with strong social relationships are healthier and live longer.

Relationships are integral to our lives, whether with family, friends, co-workers, or even strangers. The connections we form with others can have a profound impact on our overall well-being, and positive relationships are essential for increasing our life satisfaction.

Positive relationships bring a wealth of benefits to all parties involved. They provide a source of love and support that can help us to feel secure, accepted, and valued.

Good relationships lead to more meaningful and pleasant exchanges, giving us an outlet to talk and be sociable.

We can create a sense of belonging, both to the planet and to each other, if we have strong relationships with each other.

Through positive relationships, we can build trust, connection, and mutual understanding, and lead a healthy and successful life.

Final Words

Positive psychologists work to improve our satisfaction and happiness in life. They help us discover new ways to enhance our experiences, qualities, and relationships.

By learning to use these five principles, we can build more meaningful, rewarding, and healthy mindsets and outlooks, as well as live happier lives.

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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip RoyReviewed and rewritten by Sandip Roy — a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher, who writes on mental well-being, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).


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