4 big reasons why we initally find positive psychology puzzling
Posted January 5, 2010on:
At first, I was suspicious about positive psychology
I came to positive psychology some 10 years ago and like many people, I was deeply suspicious. Life is not about happiness, I thought. Life is about effectiveness. Life is about dealing with reality.
I still think that is what life is all about but I have also changed my “mental model” of happiness
Many people encountering positive psychology and happiness for the first time feel the same suspicious. And they write columns in newspapers and the speak on radio and TV about why focusing on happiness is wrong-headed.
A straight-forward summary of the puzzle of positive psychology
Gaye Prior writing from Zimbabwe, commented the post I wrote yesterday on poiesis and auto-poiesis and has captured the debates very clearly.
I realise that you write often of happiness and I wonder how you define what happiness is? It seems to me that many people might describe happiness as pleasure, which to me is more of an ephemeral thing and not happiness in the least. Pleasure does not give life meaning and purpose and love. These are more important to me than passing enjoyment and survive even in the face of tragedy, horror, awfulness and loss.
All over the web people write about happiness and often it sees to me, living here, to be more about pleasure than purpose. I know your blog is more about work and how positive psychology pertains to that and that you may have already done this and I missed it before I found you blog. Perhaps you could just [give] me the reference?
4 puzzles of positive psychology
I’ll answer her query at four levels
#1 The contribution of pleasure, engagement and meaning to well-being.
#2 Happiness at difficult times and in difficult places.
#3 The ‘maths’ of happiness and why positive psychologists agree that much of enjoyment is “passing”.
#4 How conventional psychology is a ‘straw man’.
I’ll leave this here for today and summarize each of the issues in a separate post.