What are Positive Psychology Interventions, also known as PPIs, and how can we benefit from them? Where traditional psychology focuses on treatment, assessments, and solutions to anomalies such as depression, anxiety, stress, and panic, Positive Psychology research focuses on prevention and enhanced happiness. Using scientifically proven and evidence-based techniques, PPIs rely on an existing body of research to support its reliability and can benefit us for a lifetime (Park and Biswas-Diener, 2013).
PPIs are defined as scientific tools and strategies that focus on increasing happiness and well-being (Keyes, 2002). Tradition psychologists over the years have focused more on treatment than prevention (Bolier, Haverman, 2013). Minimal resources on tools that could promote well-being and happiness were available if at all until the last two decades. PPI is also defined as a psychological intervention that focuses primarily on raising positive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (Sin and Lyubomirsky, 2009). Sin and Lyubomirsky found that all Positive Psychology Interventions have two important components:
1. A focus on enhancing happiness with positive thoughts and emotions.
2. The ability to sustain the positive effects for the long-term.
Positive Psychology Interventions consist of many different practices that can bring about long-term happiness, such as sensory awareness, practices of gratitude, social communication, and cognitive reformations. As such, these techniques are clustered together into practical techniques, also called the Positive Psychology Interventions (Parks and Schuller, 2014).
Interventions are divided into seven categories (Parks and Schuller, 2014):
1. Savoring PPIs. This intervention focuses on a specific experience and aims to enhance the effects of the experience to maximize happiness (Peterson, 2006). Savoring PPIs encourage us to grab every aspect of our experience, be it social, emotional, or physical (Jon Kabat-Zinn, 2009).
2. Empathy PPIs. This intervention focuses on strengthening positive emotions in our personal relationships. Healthy social relationships, personal and professional, are essential to achieving happiness and inner peace (Diener and Seligman, 2002).
3. Gratitude Interventions. This intervention includes self-reflective practices, such as a gratitude journal, or interactive methods where we actively express our gratitude to others. This can include saying thank you, giving small appreciation gifts, or paying gratitude visits.
4. Kindness Boosters. Happy people possess the trait of kindness. Happiness and kindness go hand-in-hand and complement each other (Aknin, Dunn, and Norton, 2012).
5. Optimistic Interventions. This intervention helps us create positive outcomes when we set realistic expectations for the future. This helps us gain insight into aspects of our daily lives that are going wrong and what we can do to pursue the ideal life we wish for.
6. Strength-Building Measures. Strength in positive psychology refers to our internal capacities and values (Parks and Biswas-Diener, 2013).
7. Meaning Oriented PPIs. This intervention helps us understand what is meaningful to us in life and why. They also make us think about what is significant in life and how we can achieve goals that really matter.
Judaism has long touted the practices of gratitude, mindfulness, optimistic thinking, and behaving kindly and empathically towards others. In the coming articles, we will tie in each Positive Psychology Intervention to its corresponding teachings in Jewish thought. When we practice interventions, we create positive outcomes and prevent anomalies such as depression and anxiety from occurring.