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How many times have you had the quote “If you think positive, good things happen” thrown in your face? If you’re like me, your friends and family have used this quote as a response to your annoying complaints and negative attitude. I’ve always brushed this statement off, assuming it was just a nice saying with no actual basis. However, upon discovering the field of positive psychology, I truly believe in the power of this statement.

What is positive psychology?

While many other branches of psychology focus on problem-solving and overcoming weaknesses, positive psychology is preemptive, investing in character, meaning, and true satisfaction.  Key supporters of positive psychology include Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association, Christopher Peterson and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Positive psychology focuses on the virtues that make life worth living, happiness and discovering the path towards living a good life. 

How to apply positive psychology to our daily lives?

Identifying character strengths

Determine your strengths through introspection or by taking a strengths test. Once your strengths are determined, implement them! As psychologist Don Clifton said, “There is no more effective way to empower people than to see each person in terms of his or her strengths.” If you realize you are lacking certain strengths that you think are essential, develop them.

Gratitude exercises

Adding gratitude to your life will increase your overall social and emotional well-being. Becoming a grateful person is as simple as writing down three things you are grateful for every day. This can be as easy as getting a journal, keeping a list on your phone or downloading one of these fun apps. Making this simple five-minute task part of your daily routine will help you appreciate all the good you have and all the people who you care about.


It may seem cheesy, but going out of your way to help someone else will boost your own self-esteem and the self-esteem of the person you helped.  Acts as simple as holding the door open for others, buying Starbucks for the person behind you in line or letting someone who seems busy skip you in the grocery line. These small acts have real and substantial psychological implications.

Mindfulness exercises

Here are some great mindfulness exercises to implement into your routine. These mindfulness exercises will help you become more self-aware and prevent you from going through the motions of life monotonously. People that are mindful and meditate regularly live happier and healthier lives.

Finding your FLOW

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi studied the topic of FLOW extensively, researching and discovering how to attain optimal experience. Finding your inner FLOW is to cultivate all your attention on a specific activity and become so entrenched in it that you lose track of the world around you. Csikszentmihalyi recommends immersing yourself in the moment with complete focus and inner clarity of the exact task to reach this FLOW state.  

What are some benefits of positive psychology?

Some of the benefits of positive psychology include higher self-esteem, stronger and better relationships, greater success, improved productivity and even some physical health benefits. The greatest benefit is the perspective switch — starting to look at the world in a more optimistic light, infusing kindness and positivity as much as possible.

The next time you are feeling down and your friend tells you to stop being so pessimistic, listen to them! Creating a habit of positive thinking, happiness and optimism can drastically improve your quality of life. 

Adina Hirsch is a sophomore at the University of Florida. She is studying economics and psychology in hopes to attend law school in the future to become a public defender. Adina is passionate about cold brew coffee, criminal justice, and new experiences.
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