Category: anxiety

What Is Positive Psychology and How Does It Work?

We can track the origins of psychology as a part of philosophy as far back as 500 BC. Anyway, scientific psychology as we know it today is a relatively new science dating back to about 150 years when Leipzig and Gustav Fechner started exploring the sensory experiences and subjective judgments of people.


For over a century, psychology kept dealing with issues, mental illnesses, and maladaptive behavior as a primary focus. Or else said – it was generally a science aiming to determine what’s wrong, how it went wrong, and how it can potentially be made right again.


This course of development was uninterrupted until the very end of the 20th century. Then, the current-time president of the American Psychological Association, Martin Seligman, took on the humanistic approach of Abraham Maslow and started talking about “positive psychology.”


In the decades to come, positive psychology developed as a subfield of psychology focused on identifying and building assets instead of just dealing with issues. Below, we’re discussing the fundamentals of positive psychology and how it alters the general perception of ourselves and our own role in our general well-being.

What Is Positive Psychology: Definition

According to Martin Seligman’s own definition from the book “Positive Psychology: An Introduction”, this field of psychology can be described as:


The scientific study of positive human functioning and flourishing on multiple levels that include the biological, personal, relational, institutional, cultural, and global dimensions of life.

That’s the first scientific approach interested in the pursuit of happiness beyond motivational speaking, literature, and art. It’s a blend between modern science and a modern mindset, looking to define the means for achieving satisfaction, gratification, and good spirits by using one’s own signature strengths.


Or else said – positive psychology emphasizes happiness as a term for subjective well-being.


It explores the role of simple pleasures, fulfillment, accomplishments, meaning, and social inclusion in building up one’s general life satisfaction. Moreover – it can be applied to both individuals and societal groups looking to improve their long-term well-being instead of merely addressing their immediate problems.

goal, care, optimism, inspiration, love

What Are the Main Positive Psychology Concepts and Principles?

Considering its character and theories, positive psychology is often poorly misinterpreted as pseudoscience or even equalized with superficial self-help methodologies. It’s important to stress on the scientific nature of this psychology subfield, as it relies on research and evidence above all.


When it comes to theoretical concepts, we have the most straightforward set of definitions written down by Christopher Peterson – a professor at the University of Michigan and a major name in the field of positive psychology.


His evidence-based concepts of positive psychology can be summed up as follows:


  • Most people are naturally resilient and capable of feeling happy and well-satisfied for most of their lives.
  • Living a good life is something people can be educated about, and finding happiness can be trained.
  • Feeling happiness promotes even more happiness and is a direct cause of fortunate events in life.
  • Assets such as social relations, personality strengths, and general satisfaction can make disappointments and setbacks easier to take.
  • A person’s inner resources are best revealed during times of challenge and crisis.
  • People can draw meaning and purpose from other people, from their own spirituality, and from a meaningful and fulfilling professional realization.
  • Financial stability plays a role in subjective life satisfaction but has diminishing returns on our happiness after a particular point.
  • Living a good life is more about Eudaimonia (a deep inner satisfaction) than Hedonism (fleeting pleasures and instant positive experiences).
  • Emotional intelligence and empathy are even more important than critical thinking for a person’s general quality of life.


Last but not least, Peterson states that all good days share three essential features. These are a sense of autonomy, a feeling of competence, and a connection to others. Translated from theory to practice, these would mean independence, education, and social interaction.


In the field of positive psychology, resilience is an inherent quality. And the more we perceive it as a resource, the more it would support us in revealing our additional resources.

inner strenght

Examples of Positive Psychology Interventions

Before we give examples of positive psychology interventions, we need to mention the most influential model these interventions are based on. It’s called the PERMA model, and it’s an acronym standing for Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment.


The upper ones are perceived as a type of formula for authentic well-being, and they act as puzzle pieces to the bigger picture of one’s happiness.


Anyway, bringing the pieces together can be easier said than done, especially given the scope of a person’s life they cover. So there are actually hundreds of positive psychological interventions for the sake of addressing each puzzle piece. And some of the most popular among them include:


  • Savoring each experience and practicing mindfulness in the little pleasures in life, such as observing nature or enjoying the taste of a meal.
  • Working on your empathy skills and practicing self-love and self-respect along with acceptance and respect towards others.
  • Practicing everyday acts of kindness towards yourself and others. Altruistic and selfless acts are not strictly about gifts, money, or even volunteering. Instead, they can be just the words you say and the emotional support you provide.
  • Focusing on gratitude and cherishing the things you have, the support you receive, or the good things life actually offers to you every day.
  • Entertaining your optimistic view of life, including by means of imagination, analysis, thought experiments, and future expectations.
  • Acknowledging your internal capacities and values as means to affirm your own strength and your own power in your life.
  • Ever searching for meaning in the things you do and the goals you pursue. But not the meaning someone expects; the meaning that matters for you.


As broad as they are, the interventions listed above are meant to help you stay aware instead of swimming with the current. All-around perception, genuineness, reasoning, and appreciation cost nothing – but they are vital for teaching yourself to feel happy with yourself and the world around you.

The Positive Psychology Strengths and Virtues

As mentioned above, positive psychology is all about finding your strengths and using them in your favor. These strengths and virtues are best defined in a book by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman called “Character Strengths and Virtues.”


According to the two positive psychology scientists, a person’s character strengths can be classified into six categories as follows:


Wisdom and Knowledge Creativity, curiosity, judgment, flexible thinking, perspective, quick learning, etc.
Courage Bravery, determination, perseverance, verve,  high intrinsic motivation, etc.
Humanity Kindness, empathy, love, gratitude, social and emotional intelligence, etc.
Justice Fairness, leadership, teamwork, collaboration, integrity, honesty, etc.
Temperance Humbleness, forgiveness, attentiveness, discreetness, self-regulation, reasoning, etc.
Transcendence Spirituality, hope, humor, appreciation of beauty, buoyancy, devotion, etc.


For the sake of objectiveness, there are multiple tests and surveys to help you determine your character strengths and virtues. They will lead you through different life situations to minimize subjectivity and determine your core resources as they are.

The Best Books for Positive Psychology

If you’re already interested in the principles of positive psychology, you’d probably want to dig deeper into the science of happiness. Although there are multiple resources you can support your learning process with, here are some of the best books you can begin with:


  1. Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification by Christopher Peterson and Martin E.P. Seligman
  2. Pursuing the Good Life: 100 Reflections on Positive Psychology by Christopher Peterson
  3. Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin E.P. Seligman
  4. Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment by Martin E.P. Seligman
  5. The Psychology of Happiness by Michael Argyle
  6. Flourishing: Positive Psychology and the Life Well-lived by Corey Keyes and Jonathan David Haidt
  7. Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life by Todd Barrett Kashdan
  8. What Is the Good life? Positive Psychology and the Renaissance of Humanistic Psychology by Brent Dean Robbins
  9. Psychology of Human Strengths: Fundamental Questions and Future Directions for a Positive Psychology by Lisa G. Aspinwall and Ursula M. Staudinger
  10. The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology by Shane J. Lopez


Stay tuned to our happiness, mental health, and well-being blog to find the next game-changer in your life!

Is It Bad to Listen to Music While Sleeping?

According to data from Helsestart, more than a third of the adults in the USA have trouble falling asleep at least once per week. This solid 36 % is not equally distributed among ages and genders, as older adults and females are statistically more prone to sleep disorders. 

Difficulties falling asleep can arise due to different factors related to lifestyle and general health state. These include chronic stress, sensory overload, hormonal imbalance, and certain mental health conditions. In addition, poor screen time hygiene and nutritional deficiencies can worsen the situation, so you’ll have to approach the problem thoughtfully and holistically.

Once you’ve checked with your healthcare provider to address all potential physical and mental health reasons, you’ll probably look for a working solution for faster and better rest. And you’ll inevitably stumble upon the idea of using calming sleep music.

Can music make you fall asleep faster, is sleeping with music bad, and what should you be careful about when using this relaxation strategy? Find out in the paragraphs below!


Can Music Help You Sleep?

Music psychology researchers share an opinion on the subject, and their answer is absolutely positive – yes, music can help you sleep. In recent years, many scientists have found proof that listening to music at bedtime can help both fall asleep faster and improve general sleep quality.

So, here is the theory behind the facts:


  • The human brain is wired to respond to music on a purely physiological level. If you’re listening to calming beats of sleepy music, both your heart rate and your breathing rhythm will reflect the music, thus slowing down in harmony. 
  • Calm music induces relaxation and serves as a distraction from stressful thoughts. Once you let your mind sink into the sound, you can effectively avoid the overthinking and anxiety that keep you from relaxing. 
  • Music masks out distracting noises. If your environment is not exactly sleep-friendly or you’re just more sensitive towards sounds, playing a soothing sound can help your mind and body ease off.
  • Music can set a sleeping pattern. For example, if you play the same song (or the same playlist) every night when you go to bed, it will literally turn into a signal for your body, telling it that it’s time to chill out. 


Generally speaking, bedtime beats can be a game-changer for people who have difficulties falling asleep due to psychological and stress-related reasons. On the other hand, a physical condition like sleep apnea is unlikely to improve with just the right playlist. 

woman going to sleep while listening to music

Music Affects The Mind and Body

Music brings worlds along with it, and you already know that from your own experience. It can draw long-forgotten memories, wake up unexpected emotional responses, and even inspire life-changing decisions. Surely enough, it can also change our mood and make mind and body switch direction in just a matter of minutes. 

Another unique reaction to music is the activation of both the left and the right sides of the brain. This rarely occurring simultaneous boost makes you better at problem-solving and integrating logic with creativity. This long-proven effect of music on the mind has led to the creation of concentration and learning playlists, anxiety-soothing playlists, and music pieces for effective sleep aid. 


Last but not least, music helps lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate, and lower cortisol levels in the body. It is an established form of therapy to help people address physical, emotional, social, and cognitive needs, including the need for better sleep. 


Influence of Music Over Mood

In fact, music is proven to alter the chemistry in the body by provoking a strong hormonal response. For example, listening to happy music will immediately boost your serotonin levels and neutralize stress hormones, making you feel brighter, more restful, and more positive. 

In case you’re asking yourself – no, it doesn’t necessarily mean listening to “Over the Rainbow” on repeat. Happy music sounds different for everyone, and your happy music is your choice exclusively. One song might trigger a positive mood in some while, in the meantime, significantly worsening the anxiety of others. 

So, when looking for your feel-good playlist, don’t compare yourself to others’ standards, but stick to your taste and emotionality instead. 

smartphone playing music on earbuds

What Kinds of Music Can You Listen To While Sleeping?

As you may already suggest, not every type of music will be a good choice for your bedtime relaxation routine. For example, listening to death metal or hardcore acid techno might be your piece of cake during the day, but they are definitely not recommended once you turn the lights off. 

Sleep experts have a short list of recommendations regarding your goodnight playlist, and they include the following:


  • Stick to relaxing sleep music with a slow and sustained duration of musical notes;
  • Choose lower frequencies measured at about 500 Hz and under;
  • Prefer stronger bass and moody, non-danceable rhythms;
  • Keep the volume under 40 decibels.

There are tons of ready-made sleep meditation music playlists you can choose from, including free and paid apps for non-pharmacological sleep induction. 


Are There Any Risks When Listening to Music at Night?

Although experts agree on the positive impact of music on sleep induction, they also agree on something else. And these are the inevitable risks that come with sleeping with your headphones on. 

Those risks include, for example:


  • Wearing in-ear plugs all night every night can lead to earwax buildup, infection, ear pain, and hearing loss.
  • Worsened blood flow due to tight on-ear headphones can lead to tissue necrosis in the areas of the ears, temple, and scalp.
  • When you play the music too loud, it can worsen your hearing and make it even harder to fall asleep.
  • Poor choice of music can increase your heart rate, impact your mood, and increase alertness and anxiety.
  • In children, sleeping with wired headphones or earplugs can lead to strangulation, though rather rare. 
  • Sleeping too close to your smartphone can increase body temperature and electromagnetic field impact, thus actually making it harder to fall asleep.


The best alternative for listening to deep sleep music in bed is using a wireless speaker and keeping your ears free from plugs. In addition, if you’re using your smartphone, it would be a good idea to put it on airplane mode during sleep to avoid notifications and interruptions. 

The Pressure for Self-Care: It Should Not Be a Chore

Self-care is a multifaceted process of engaging in strategies that promote overall well-being. It essentially involves conscious and intentional acts that one takes to promote their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. A survey by The Harris Poll found that 64% of Americans are focused on mental health care now more than ever. To prioritize self-care, they have started exploring strategies such as lifestyle changes, stress management, a healthy diet, and regular exercise.

Self-care is essential to building resilience in this fast-paced and anxiety-driven world. Taking steps to care for your mind and body equips you with the energy to live your best life. It could be thought of as recharging your personal battery so you can stay on top of your other priorities and obligations.

The pressures of self-care

Taking care of ourselves in the most basic ways helps us restore balance and find relief from stressors that plague our day-to-day lives. Self-care has been shown to provide a myriad of benefits, such as reducing anxiety and depression, avoiding burnout, and increasing energy and happiness. It also allows us to build a stronger relationship with ourselves and the people around us.
Unfortunately, all this emphasis on prioritizing self-care has brought needless pressure on some people. For some, an hour nap may feel like another chore they need to add to their growing list of responsibilities. For others, a trip to the spa could be just another thing they think they should be doing instead of genuinely finding pleasure and relief from it. Taking time to receive a healthy dose of self-care could stir up feelings of guilt from doing one activity (such as taking a walk in the park) over another (like playing with children). The pressure of doing self-care could also make some people feel like they do not deserve the time off or the relaxation activity. Instead of curbing these feelings, the worrying, anxiety, and stress continue. Today, we’ll discuss how to lessen the pressure for self-care and bring it back to its primary purpose of rest and relaxation.


Making self-care healthy and easy once again

Delegate time for yourself

Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated and shouldn’t take up much of your time. It doesn’t necessarily mean treating yourself to special gifts or activities. Focusing on the basics like sticking to your morning routine of attentive showering or skin care without any distractions can be an essential way to take care of yourself. You can also consider taking advantage of applications that offer small pockets of relaxation through ambient audio as you work through the day. Relaxifyapp’s comprehensive and science-based program is designed to improve your cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being. It offers gamified mental health technologies designed by psychologists to provide stress and anxiety relief.

Create healthy physical health goals

Fitness and nutrition are important components of self-care. But, with the advent of social media and the unrealistic expectations of beauty it sets up, it can be difficult to create goals that fit your personal journey. Your physical health goals should be unique, sustainable, and not dictated by external pressures. That is why having a healthy motivation toward losing weight is important—this could include treating yourself with kindness and compassion and focusing on what changes you genuinely want to see in yourself. Taking charge of your fitness journey sustains your motivation for longer and allows you to care for your own body. After all, self-care for physical health should go beyond being concerned with how you look, how you will fit in your clothes, and how other people will perceive you.

Find opportunities to socialize

Although we may picture self-care as involving activities you do alone, it doesn’t have to be a lonely journey. However, maintaining social relationships is a critical aspect of self-care. Having close connections with others is vital for our well-being. In fact, we tackled in our blog how powerful physical touch such as cuddling and hugging could be for our physical health. Socialization doesn’t necessarily mean reaching out to people outside your immediate circles—it could be as easy as playing with your children, having date nights with your partner, or meeting up with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. When it all becomes too overwhelming, developing boundaries as you interact with your friends and family could also be the building blocks of good self-care. When self-care becomes a tedious activity, it fails to serve its purpose. As with any other activity in your health journey, it’s essential to assess where you’re at in your self-care process and whether there are things you can improve to create positive and more meaningful changes in yourself.

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