Positive Psychology has been around for centuries, but only got its name in the 1980s from Martin Seligman, president of the American Psychological Association at the time. Its roots can be traced back to the classical Greek philosophers around 4000 BC. After that, it threads through Christianity, the Reformation, and the Renaissance era right through to the 20th century philosophers of Carl Jung, Carl Rogers, and Abraham Maslow.
Between 1950 and 1965, philosophers raised the importance of human dignity, growth, development, and progress, and began to shift from the prevailing pessimistic psychoanalysis world view. Maslow (in his 1955 Humanistic credo) was ahead of his time when he touched on topics that have become extremely relevant in the 21st century. Examples of these are: the importance of studying people at their best; studying humans as active, autonomous, self-governing beings, making psychology less intellectual and more mainstream; and creating a healthy culture and society in which man can grow and be self-fulfilled.
At this point, it must be said that Positive Psychology is not a Westernised perspective on happiness, but rather a worldwide concept. It’s equally recognised in Eastern philosophies such as Buddhism, Fascism, Confucianism, or Hinduism, where the Third Wave of Positive Psychology has gained much of its secular, spiritual well-being practices such as mindfulness, gratitude, and compassion.