The Pursuit of Happiness

No, I’m not blogging about the 2006 film, satisfyingly adequate as it was. I’m talking about positive psychology, the academic movement that is turning traditional therapy – where else? – on its head. Here are two new recent tid-bits from my quest to understand, evaluate and apply this radical new thinking. Enjoy!

First off, there was an excellent discussion on Radio 4 this week called In Pursuit of Happiness. “Claudia Hammond looks at the government’s plan to measure the nation’s happiness and asks whether happiness and a sense of well-being are skills that can be taught. A growing body of evidence, from fields such as positive psychology, suggests that happier, more optimistic people live longer and are ultimately more successful than people with a more pessimistic nature. But is optimism something that can be learnt, and can it be applied to an entire nation?”

Claudia Hammond as a journalist understands the subject well and has interviewed Martin Seligman before. As to the questions in the last sentence, I’m thinking ‘definitely’ and ‘possibly‘ in that order.

Second, in the last few days I’ve purchased a book that is a surprise hit. Why surprise? I bought in in Bargain Books for 99p. And I’ve never heard of the author. It’s called Help Yourself to Happiness by Keith Were. Not only does it provide a clear survey of the field, it does so in totally practical terms and even managed to cover aspects that others neglect e.g. the nefarious influence of the media, internet and TV. Watch a video summary of it here.

A friend of mine argued with me last week that we human beings are built for happiness, and that depression is therefore something that is unnatural. Aristotle agrees with him.

Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.

Do you?

Image credit: meddygarnet.