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FAQs

Here are the answers to some common questions relating to the interrelated fields of positive and performance (sport) psychology.



What is 'positive psychology'?


Positive psychology is a recent branch of psychology attracting attention. While mainstream psychology has previously been largely concerned with negative aspects of human life, positive psychology takes a new perspective, looking at the factors that allow individuals and communities to thrive. Its focus is the study of conditions under which people flourish, and experience happiness and well-being.  It asks the question: ‘What is this part of the human belief system that wants us to do well, to succeed, and to feel great?’, then looks at ways these finding can be used to help people live optimally.


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What are the benefits of positive psychology?


The benefits of positive psychology stem from its perspective of wellness, rather than illness, and its emphasis on the mental, behavioural and emotional skills that lead to success, contentment and happiness. To gain a better understanding of how this theoretical idea has practical applications, consider these topics being studied (and the researchers studying them):

Individuals

Work


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How can sport (performance) psychology work for me if I'm not an athlete?


If we step back from the specifics of any given challenge or significant undertaking, it is possible to see that the factors necessary to achieving the goal—or being successful in the endeavour—are quite generic.  Among others, these factors include particular mental skills: a positive attitude, goal setting, motivation, communication, behaviour, and decision making. For a more extensive and explanatory list please visit our page on Mental Skills for Performance.


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What is meant by the term, 'wellness' or  'well-being'?


Well-being is a different state to happiness. It is a more stable state of contentment, being well, and feeling satisfied. According to renowned American psychologist, Martin E.P. Seligman, it is well-being that is the central construct of positive psychology, not happiness. Well-being has five measurable elements (with acronym PERMA) that count toward it:

  • Positive emotion—What we feel: pleasure, rapture, ecstasy, warmth, comfort, and the like, of which happiness and life satisfaction are all aspects;
  • Engagement—This is about flow; being one with the music, time stopping, and the loss of self-consciousness during an absorbing activity;
  • Relationships—Fostering of genuine and healthy relationships.
  • Meaning and purpose—The Meaningful Life consists in belonging to and serving something that you believe is bigger than the self, and humanity creates all the positive institutions to allow this: religion, political party, being Green, the Boy Scouts, or the family.
  • Accomplishment—Encompasses success and mastery, rather than simply for its own sake.

These are the five pillars of well-being. No one element alone defines well-being, but each contributes to it. Some aspects of these five elements are measured subjectively by self-report, but other aspects are measured objectively; without objective measure, we may simply be deluding ourselves on key matters, such as the genuine nature of our relationships, or meaning and purpose in life.

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What is 'mindfulness'?


Mindfulness is a concept that has been practiced in Eastern cultures over thousands of years, and is now catching on in the West.

Elite athletes, business executives, talented professionals and performing artists are using mindfulness. This mindfulness approach gives them the edge, over their peers and competitors. Mindfulness involves:

Mindfulness is not only for people with a mental health difficulty. Indeed, mindfulness is an integral part of the new positive psychology movement, where the focus is on what allows a person to achieve well-being, happiness, to flourish, to succeed, and to perform at their personal best.

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