What do you think of when you think about psychology? Depression, stress, issues? But what the brighter side of life – happiness, fun, well-being?
This is where positive psychology comes in, and what pioneering thinker, best selling author and former head of the American Psychological Association, Martin Seligman, has been working on for over 10 years. Seligman explains:
“The aim of positive psychology is to catalyse a change in psychology from a preoccupation only with repairing the worst things in life to also building the best qualities in life”
Seligman stumbled upon the notion of positive psychology through a chance conversation with his five year old daughter and later went onto to define the concept of learned optimism. This fascinating paper from Seligman gives a great insight into his thinking, including this rather surprising revelation from a man so devoted to happiness and well-being…
“I was a grouch. I had spent 50 years mostly enduring wet weather in my soul, and the last 10 years being a nimbus cloud in a household of sunshine. Any good fortune I had was probably not due to my grouchiness but in spite of it. In that moment, I resolved to change”
And not only did he change, he helped to change the lives of many others with the concepts he explains to the Dalai Lama in the video below:
Seligman’s talk on Well-Being & Happiness takes place at the Opera House on Feb 17, more to come on Seligman and well-being soon, in the meantime, we’ll leave you with some of his thoughts on children’s happiness, as popularised in his best selling book The Optimistic Child.
“Teaching children optimism is more, I realized, than just correcting pessimism . . . It is the creation of a positive strength, a sunny but solid future-mindedness that can be deployed throughout life — not only to fight depression and to come back from failure, but also to be the foundation of success and vitality.”