As a relatively new field, positive psychology examines how ordinary people can become happier and more fulfilled. While traditional psychology focuses on dysfunction, positive psychology focuses on happiness, optimism, mindfulness, flow, character strengths and virtues, hope, positive thinking and resilience.
Psychologist Martin Seligman founded the field in 2000. He serves as the director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania where they teach about the Three Pillars of Positive Psychology:
Positive Emotions – Understanding positive emotions necessitates the study of contentment in the past, happiness in the present and hope for the future.
Positive Individual Traits – Understanding positive individual traits requires the study of strengths and virtues such as the capacity for love, work, courage, compassion, resilience, creativity, curiosity, integrity, self-knowledge, moderation, self-control and wisdom.
Positive Institutions – Understanding positive institutions entails the study of the strengths that foster better communities such as justice, responsibility, civility, parenting, nurturance, work ethic, leadership, teamwork, purpose and tolerance.