Research in Positive Psychology took off when Martin Seligman became the President of American Psychological Association (APA) in 1998. Seligman implored the community to invest in Positive Psychology, a niche discipline within psychology.
What is Positive Psychology?
Let us divide the general population into four broad categories:
Mentally sick: Individuals with symptoms so severe that psychiatric treatment is necessary.
Languishing: Not dysfunctional but suffering from emotional problems. Unfulfilled.
Moderate mental health: Those who are getting by, neither sad nor joyful.
Flourishing: Those in great health with joyful, purposeful lives.
Seligman noted that for several decades, psychology and psychiatry had focused on individuals in Category A (mentally sick). They had succeeded in building reasonable models of mental sickness, come up with diagnostic criteria and devised therapies to make such individuals feel better. However, mental health researchers had missed out on studying people in Category D (flourishing). Wouldn't it be awesome to study these people and identify lifestyle techniques that help them flourish? Then everybody (including those in Categories B and C) could apply these techniques and feel better. Thus society would benefit as a whole!
Soon after Seligman's address to APA in 1998, funding in positive psychology increased. Lots of studies were done in various universities and labs. Within 10 years, summary books on positive psychology were penned down. One such book is The How of Happiness (384 pages, 2008) by Dr Sonja Lyubomirsky. I really like this book. It is engineering oriented. Chapter by chapter, practical techniques for boosting our happiness index are described. Each chapter has references to psychological research papers and personal stories.
Here are some techniques that I've picked up from reading positive psychology books, spiritual books and personal experience:
Acts of Service
Forgiveness & Compassion
[ … Yet to write articles on
Physical Fitness — Meditation — Simple Food — Goals of Life — Laughter — Sleep … ]