Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1999). If we are so rich, why arenʼt we happy? , (10), 821–827. doi:10.1037//0003–066X.54.10.821. Ever since systematic thought has been recorded, the question of what makes men and women happy has been of central concern. Answers to this question have ranged from the materialist extreme of searching for happiness in external conditions to the spiritual extreme claiming that happiness is the result of a mental attitude. Psychologists have recently rediscovered this topic. Research supports both the materialist and the mentalist positions, although the latter produces the stronger findings. The article focuses in particular on one dimension of happiness: the flow experience, or the state of total involvement in an activity that requires complete concentration.
Dambrun, M., & Ricard, M. (2011). Self–centeredness and selflessness: A theory of self–based psychological functioning and its consequences for happiness. , (2), 138 –157. doi:10.1037/a0023059. The theoretical model presented in this paper emerged from several different disciplines. This model proposes that the attainment of happiness is linked to the self, and more particularly to the structure of the self. We support the idea that the perception of a structured self, which takes the form of a permanent, independent and solid entity leads to self–centered psychological functioning, and this seems to be a significant source of both affliction and fluctuating happiness. Contrary to this, a selfless psychological functioning emerges when perception of the self is flexible (i.e., a dynamic network of transitory relations), and this seems to be a source of authentic–durable happiness. In this paper, these two aspects of psychological functioning and their underlying processes will be presented. We will also explore the potential mechanisms that shape them. We will conclude with an examination of possible applications of our theory.
Lyubomirsky, S. (2001). Why are some people happier than others? The role of cognitive and motivational processes in well–being [Special issue]. , (3), 239–249. doi:10.1037//0003–066X.56.3.239. Addressing the question of why some people are happier than others is important for both theoretical and practical reasons and should be a central goal of a comprehensive positive psychology. Following a construal theory of happiness, the author proposes that multiple cognitive and motivational processes moderate the impact of the objective environment on well–being. Thus, to understand why some people are happier than others, one must understand the cognitive and motivational processes that serve to maintain, and even enhance, enduring happiness and transient mood. The author's approach has been to explore hedonically relevant psychological processes, such as social comparison, dissonance reduction, self–reflection, self–evaluation, and person perception, in chronically happy and unhappy individuals. In support of a construal framework, self–rated happy and unhappy people have been shown to differ systematically in the particular cognitive and motivational strategies they use. Promising research directions for positive psychology in pursuit of the sources of happiness, as well as the implications of the construal approach for prescriptions for enhancing well–being, are discussed.
Levine, M. (2000). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Buddhism and Yoga are the quintessential positive psychologies. Indeed, they provide the intellectual framework for such a psychology.
Macleod, A. K. (2012). Well-being, positivity and mental health: An introduction to the special issue. , 279-82. doi:10.1002/cpp.1794 Enhancing well-being, as opposed to reducing distress, has traditionally not been a focus for clinical practice. There are differences in views about the nature of well-being, but enhancing well-being in clinical settings is a straightforward goal whatever concept of well-being is adopted. Reasons for adopting a well-being enhancing, as well as a distress-reducing, focus include the fact that many psychological problems do not fit the simple acute treatment model of disorder, that positive experience inhibits negative experience, and that people can benefit from therapists seeing them as more than the sum of their problems. In recent years, well-being has been of increasing interest to researchers and clinicians, and enhancing well-being is emerging as a potentially valuable element of effective clinical practice. KEY PRACTITIONER MESSAGE: Enhancing well-being has been relatively neglected as a therapeutic goal. There are good reasons for seeing well-being enhancement as a valuable goal for clinical practice, alongside the more traditional goal of distress-reduction. Useful work is emerging in this area from clinicians and clinical researchers.
Comment on the above: Gable and Haidt (2005, p. 104) appear to present a logical contradiction when they state that "We would like to invite you to consider getting involved too, because if all goes well, positive psychology may not be around for much longer. If the positive psychology movement is successful in rebalancing psychology and expanding its gross academic product, it will become obsolete." The implication here is clearly that psychology requires rebalancing by the positive psychology and that if it is successful in this rebalancing, psychology will be restored and the positive psychology movement will become obsolete. However, the authors go on to suggest that "positive psychology does not imply that the rest of psychology is negative" (Gable & Haidt, 2005, p. 104) and they further state that this interpretation "is unfortunate and, more important, untrue, as we hope what we have written here already demonstrates" (Gable & Haidt, 2005, p. 107). If it's untrue that psychology is negative, then what is wrong with psychology that it needs rebalancing?
"However, positive psychology does imply that the rest of psychology is negative, although it is understandable that the name may imply that to some people. In fact, the large majority of the gross academic product of psychology is neutral, focusing on neither wellbeing nor distress. Positive psychology grew largely from the recognition of an imbalance in clinical psychology, in which most research does indeed focus on mental illness" (Gable & Haidt, 2005, p. 104).
Comment: It seems disappointingly arbitrary and reductionistic that Seligman has framed positive psychology as a corrective to what he has perceived as psychology's historical focus on the negative (Held, 2005). This "either or" dichotomy leaves little room for individual differences or subtlety in diagnosis. Does negative have to be negative for everyone and positive be positive for everyone? This dichotomizing also flies in the face the growing body of literature on posttraumatic growth; if, at least in some cases, growth can result from trauma, then the dichotomy of positive and negative psychology becomes largely meaningless.
Comment: Seligman makes this extremely positive [perhaps even unrealistic] appraisal of the progress that "negative psychology" has made, almost to imply that this progress is sufficient and now we can move on to study something else. I also note that this is self–referential: "At least 14 disorders, previously intractable, have yielded their secrets to science and can now be either cured or considerably relieved (Seligman, 1994)" (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000, p. 6).
"If positive psychology's path is going to be, as its proponents assert, independent of current work in the study of negative experiences, we cannot imagine how this emergent field will tackle complex human strengths such as the ability to experience emotional ambivalence and endure negative emotions when necessary, and how it will study virtues such as the capacity to make amends" (Tennen & Affleck, 2003, p. 167).
"It is time to correct the imbalance between considering only negative behavior of individuals and institutions and consider the human potential needed for well–being, satisfaction, and meaningful aspects of work and life. The most basic assumption of positive psychology is that human goodness and excellence are as authentic and common as are disease, disorder, and distress" (Hoy & Tarter, 2011, p. 428).
"Psychological traits and processes are not inherently positive or negative; instead, whether psychological characteristics promote or undermine well–being depends on the context in which they operate. If true, this principle indicates a need to think beyond positive psychology" (McNulty & Fincham, 2011, p. 1).