Positive Psychology, the Science of Flourishing

Unlike traditional psychology, positive psychology focuses on individuals' increased well-being, rather than simply looking at how mental illness affects them. DiscovHER focuses on positive psychology through the definition of three engaged women.

What is Positive Psychology?


According to the IPPA (International Positive Psychology Association), this recent branch of psychology already has a large body of rich literature. For example, the World Database of Happiness offers over 9,000 scientific articles on the subject.

The World Book of Happiness, a major collective work in which Barbara Freidrickson participated, provides a way of understanding positive psychology via the testimonies of 100 researchers from all over the world.


As Professor Lea Waters, Director of Melbourne's Positive Psychology Centre at the University of Melbourne and one of the most influential 100 women in Australia, stresses:


At the most positive, it is about a sense of thriving and flourishing: having optimism and a sense of hope.


Barbara Freidrickson: an authority


Barbara Fredrickson is an authority in the fields of social psychology, affective sciences and positive psychology. She is director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of North Carolina and has received numerous prizes for her work. In 2013, the IPPA awarded her the Christopher Peterson Gold Medal. She says:

Positive emotions do more than make us feel good. They also expand our thinking, help us generate new ideas and encourage us to consider other possibilities.

Exploring one of the most fundamental emotions known to man, her latest book, Love 2.0, offers a new theoretical and practical approach to love.



Applied Positive Psychology Miriam Akhtar


The psychologist Miriam Akhtar, a graduate of the University of East London specializing in flourishing psychology, is an authority in Great Britain in the field of applied positive psychology. Her expertise has led to work with public institutions and large companies (Kellogg, BBC, Skoda, Rolls-Royce, etc.), dealing with issues such as: predicting depression, stimulating creative thought, bouncing back from burnout, increasing one's well-being and happiness.


Also involved in social initiatives, she has participated in the development of the project Lightbox: the happiness project in Bristol, which offers free creative workshops around the theme of appreciating beauty, vitality, movement and confidence.



Alongside Dr Chris Johnstone, Miriam Akhtar offers online programs such as the Happiness Training Program, and gives conferences on the fundamentals of the science of well-being. In her book Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression, Self-Help Strategies for Happiness, Inner Strength & Well-Being, she offers advice and strategies centered on optimism, gratitude, meditation, resilience, vitality and other positive emotions.  


Have you experienced positive psychology? Tweet us on @4womeninscience

L’Oréal–UNESCO
For Women in Science

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