The 12 Steps of Positive PsychologyThe positive psychology movement is surely gaining momentum. In a recent discussion with two of my colleagues we joked that positive psychology’s really about a type of recovery from negative thinking.

This got me wondering if a 12-step process might be worth identifying. So guess what…? I think it is.

Here is what I propose for the 12 steps of positive psychology.

The 12 Steps of Positive Psychology

1.  We admitted we have more power than we realized over negative thoughts and that our lives can become more manageable if we deal with them directly.

2. Came to believe that a power greater than our current self, positivity, could be accessed and nurtured.

3. Made a decision to help God as we understand him to bring forth a feeling of well-being.

4. Made a searching and fearless inventory of  our virtues and strengths.

Proof Positive

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our goodness, kindness and courage.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character so that we can replace them with our signature strengths. 

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings — but not until we have learned to understand how these shortcomings might be opportunities to grow.

8. Made a list of all persons who have helped us and became willing to express our gratitude to them all.

9. Made direct effort to thank such people wherever possible, except when we are prevented from doing so.  In this case we write a letter to them as if they were going to receive it and keep it as a reminder of the gratitude we have for them.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and look for opportunities to be kind and compassionate, and when finding them promptly take advantage of them.

11. Sought through prayer, meditation and a daily gratitude list, to improve our relationship with others and our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual and psychological awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to those not yet flourishing, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Of course there is always room for more.  Let me know if there are ones you would like to see added to this list.



View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 11 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.


    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Oct 2011
    Published on All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). The 12 Steps of Positive Psychology. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2014, from


Recent Comments
  • Truth: With many of you women out there being so Damn picky and playing hard to get is the reason why there are so...
  • Emily: Michael – I keep reading your article. I changed my phone alarm to positive statements. I’m...
  • Jamarie: I just wanted to respond on your post, Milly. Not sure you will get this and that the post was all the way...
  • broken wife: I have been married to a schzi-bipolar husband for 32 years. Not sure how much longer this will work.I...
  • Lee G.: Ladies, I’m so sorry to hear how many of you are suffering with this. I was diagnosed about 10 years...
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code