Prescribing happiness: positive psychology and family medicine

Fam Med. 2005 Oct;37(9):630-4.


Although mental health promotion is consistent with the philosophy of family medicine, it is largely unclear what behaviors or interventions comprise mental health promotion in practice. A recent effort in psychology, known as "positive psychology," has endeavored to better understand happiness, meaning in life, character strengths, and how these all can be developed. Because happiness is associated with multiple benefits, including better health, it behooves family physicians to become familiar with and incorporate positive psychology into their practices. This article reviews examples of the work in positive psychology, including gratitude, capitalization, "satisficing," character strengths, and learned optimism. Potential applications of each area in medical education, physician well-being, and patient care are described.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Counseling / methods
  • Family Practice / methods*
  • Happiness*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Physician-Patient Relations