Within psychotherapy and psychology there have always been movements emphasing the postive resources and positive aspects of human experience. Important examples for this are humanistic psychology and the therapy strategies of Milton Erickson (1901-1980), a famous American psychiatrist who deeply influenced hypnosis as it is used today but also other forms of psychotherapy.
Similarly, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy has emphasised right from the start that every person has skills and resources that he/she can use to overcome difficulties. However, in the past psychology and psychotherapy somtimes focused too much on the negative aspects and on the problems of life and of people.
What helps us to feel contented with life and happy within ourselves? These are the questions that 'Positive psychology' tries to answer in a scientifically-grounded way since about the year 2000. This means the aim is not to simply go through life with rose-tinted glasses. What the research results indicate is that we are actually not so good in predicting what kind of emotions are triggered in us by life-events or even by our own behaviours and activities. Positive psychology provides helpful insights about how we can change our behaviours in small steps to increase overall contentedness with life. This includes also to employ our strengths such as creativity, compassion, honesty etc. more often and with more awareness.
Techniques and exercises from 'positive psychology' can be successfully integrated into Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. They can be used to overcome current difficulties but also to promote mental well-being in general. They are also often used to optimise performance in sport or in professional life.