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Positive Psychology: 

Learning how to be happy

Positive psychology is a science that Martin Seligman officially created in 1998.

The Origins :

Since the beginning of the 20th century, psychology focused rather on curing depression and other mental disorders than on promoting one’s personal development and well-being. Founded by Pr. Martin Seligman from Pennsylvania University, positive psychology is the scientific study of human well-being and functioning in order to help people heal from traumas but also to develop their potential and personal fulfilment.


This discipline is based on the conviction that people want to live a fulfilling and meaningful life, they want to grow and develop the best part of themselves, improve their everyday lives.

The key principles of positive psychology focus on increasing self-fulfilment by developing positive emotions, commitments, deep relationships, meaning and achievement. Renown searchers in this discipline strived to find how all those characteristics have an influence on the work of people by getting them to be more motivated, involved and efficient, and how they had beneficial fallouts in the corporate environment.  

The Pie-chart theory of Happiness

Sonja Lyubomirsky found out that one’s happiness is determined by 3 characteristics:

- 50% is based on our gene pool. We are not all born with the same DNA; one’s perception of positive emotion is partly hereditary. It is our happiness "set-point".

- Only 10% is based on life external circumstances: losing someone dear, getting married, going through an accident, winning the lottery…

- Finally, the remaining 40% depend on the way we act, the way we look at things in life and our ability to see the glass half full!

Good news: you have 40% of power to act on your happiness!

Let’s suppose that your starting gene pool is not all negative, so it is already 60% of potential work!

One is not born happy, but becomes so... by learning and practicing. 

Key resources on the topic:

- Tal Ben-Sahar, Happier, McGrawHill 2008

- Sonja Liubomirsky, The How of Happiness, Piatkus 2010

- Martin Seligman, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, Atria Books 2012

- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Harper 2008

- Barbara Fredrickson, LOVE 2.0: Finding Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection, Plume 2013

- Carol Dweck, Mindset: Changing the Way you Think to Fulfill your Potential, Do not use 2017

- Ilona Boniwell, Positive Psychology in a Nutshell: The Science of Happiness, Open University Press 2012

- Florence Servan Schreiber, 3 kifs par jour et autres rituels recommandés par la science pour cultiver le bonheur