What is Positive Psychology and Why it Matters for a Life Coach

What is positive psychology? It is a relatively recent branch of psychology that seeks to find and nurture what makes life worth living. Instead of focusing on weakness or pathology, it focuses on strengths and virtues. Though it focuses on positive characteristics and traits, it does not dismiss or ignore the very real problems and issues that people face.

What is positive psychology at its most fundamental level? It is the study and process of what makes life worth living and how achieve happiness.

What is Positive Psychology – the Basics?

  • Most people can be happy
  • Happiness leads to good outcomes, in school, work, relationships, health, and wealth.
  • Crisis can mold and reveal character. Don’t be afraid of crisis.
  • Most people are resilient and resiliency builds character.
  • Relationships matter and make life worth living.

Old Psychology Versus Positive Psychology

Traditional psychology has always asked the question: “What is wrong with you?”
Positive psychology asks the question: “What is right with you?”

Traditional psychology is concerned with mental illness, neurosis, and pathology.
Positive psychology is concerned with meaning, engagement, and satisfaction.

Traditional psychology focuses on repairing the worst things in life.
Positive psychology focuses on building on the best things in life.

What is Positive Psychology and Why it Matters to Coaches

If you take a moment to think about the definition of positive psychology, it all becomes clear why it matters to coaches. At its core, it is exactly what life coaches do with their clients. What is positive psychological coaching? It is life coaching!

Life coaches attempt to help their clients improve their well-being. There are basically two general ways to improve well-being. The first is to eliminate negative things in life. The second is to strengthen those things that are positive. Life coaches tend to work on both, but they concentrate on the strengths, talents, and virtues of their clients.

Incorporating Positive Psychology in to a Life Coaching Practice

Here are a few ways you can borrow from positive psychology and use it in your coaching practice:

  • Get clients to know and appreciate their strengths. People who have not achieved their dreams are usually held back by focusing on what they do poorly and minimizing or ignoring their strengths and talents. As a life coach, it is your job to help them reverse that attitude.
  • Help clients create a positive vision. You can help your clients create a positive goal and help them find ways to reach that goal.
  • Acknowledge the good. Once again, people often focus on the bad. They illuminate everything bad that happened during the day and ignore the good things that happened. As a coach, one of your goals should be to help them reverse this way of thinking. In the poem, The Rainy Day, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “into each life some rain must fall.” Coaches can help clients put that rain in to perspective and get then to acknowledge that each day also has plenty of sunshine.

What is positive psychology and why does it matter to life coaches? It’s basically how you should be approaching each and every client – get them to focus on the good instead of the bad, and turn that rainy day in to a day of life-affirming sunshine. What is positive psychology coaching? It is turning that half-empty glass in to one that is full of life and happiness.

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Fred Philips
Business Coach
Writing Team, Coaches Training Blog Community

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  1. Karen says

    I definitely agree that positive psychology matters and has a place for life coaching because it is basically what a life coach does: they bring their client to positivity. They help them stay positive in the challenges in their life and overcome the struggles they endure to bring them to the success and goals they wish to achieve.

  2. Kazee says

    Positive psychology plays a big role in life coaching. You cannot do well in your life coaching job without using positive psychology with your clients. Enjoyed reading your post.

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