Positive psychology is a relatively new form of psychology that has its emphasis on the practical realization of the positive influences in one’s life, such as positive character strengths, optimistic emotions, and constructive institutions. This theory is based on the belief that happiness is derived from various factors, both emotional and mental. Positive psychology aims to help people identify the happiness moment to moment, rather than only in retrospection. Clients who receive this type of treatment are able to experience a greater sense of joy and liberation during their current life circumstances, and they strive to stay focused on the positive emotions they experience in the present moment. It was developed by Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Erich Fromm, Don Clifton, Albert Bandura, Martin Seligman, Ed Diener, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, C.R. Snyder, Christopher Peterson, Shelley Taylor, Barbara Fredrickson, Michael Argyle, Daniel Gilbert, and Martin Seligman.
Oftentimes clients do not know what influences the happiness in their life from one event to another. Many professionals believe this incongruity is a result of perception. A person may not be able to identify emotions during the experience, but can clearly see them when they reflect upon that same experience later on. For instance, people who recall vacations will only dwell upon the exciting and pleasurable moments experienced during their vacations. However, for many people, these same vacations were a source of anxiety long before they began. Financial stress, pressure to complete all necessary tasks prior to leaving, familial disharmony and other factors can all lead to feelings of pressure, anxiety, and stress before any vacation or other big event. While people are experiencing the actions or behaviors they recognize these emotions and move through them very quickly. However, when we recall the experience in its entirety, the negative emotions are often diminished and are overshadowed by the more positive emotions of the event. This is the goal of positive psychology.
Some techniques used in this therapy examine activities and events independently and explore the positive implications of each. A common tool used in positive psychology therapy is the use of beepers or pagers. Clients are beeped by their therapists as a reminder for them to record the experiences they are having. These records are expanded upon when the clients add daily entries to describe the details of their previous day. These methods are often referred to as short-term sampling and are then evaluated with long-term appraisals.