Positive Psychology

This page has information on the role and aims of positive psychology in well-being, which we can apply and use in the current coronavirus situation.


Positive Psychology is the scientific study of human flourishing, and is an applied approach to optimal functioning. It has also been defined as the study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals, communities and organisations to thrive (Gable & Haidt 2005; Sheldon & King 2001).

It’s grounded in the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within them, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play (Positive Psychology Center 2016).

Positive psychology represents a commitment to the sources of psychological wellness, such as positive emotions, positive experiences, positive environments, and human strengths and virtues (Lyubomirsky 2007). But second wave positive psychology also researches some of the most challenging and painful human experiences, including pain, suffering and mortality (Ivtzan et al. 2016). In second wave positive psychology dialectics is a central tenet, with an appreciation of the dialectical nature of emotions. On the Discover Balance page there is more information on Dialectics.

Four of the major aims in Positive Psychology are: rise to life’s challenges, make the most of setbacks and adversity; engage and relate to other people; find fulfilment in creativity and productivity; look beyond oneself and help others to find lasting meaning, satisfaction, and wisdom (Keyes & Haidt 2004). These aims can be applied as principles in the current coronavirus situation to shape our behaviours and responses, to help direct our actions and navigate our way through. For example, the development and design of this site is a direct response to the current coronavirus situation, shaped by the aims in Positive Psychology. So a reflection activity that we can all do is to apply these Positive Psychology principles to our current situations, and think how we could activate them for both our own well-being and also to support the well-being of those around us, as we are all in this together.


Ivtzan, I., Lomas, T., Hefferon, K. and Worth. P. 2016. Second Wave Positive Psychology. Embracing the dark side of life. Abingdon: Routledge.