“Well-being can be defined, measured, and taught. Well-being includes positive emotions, intense engagement, good relationships, meaning, and accomplishment.”
That is the thought behind Positive Psychology and the more constructive aspects of human nature.
Although people such as psychologists Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and Erich Fromm invented and used the term “positive psychology,” and celebrated mentally healthy individuals, it is Martin Seligman who has been the most active proponent of positive psychology. He is now considered to be one of the founders of this scientific discipline and has pushed for incorporating it into education models to help reduce depression in young people and increase their well-being and happiness. EditOr Proof highlighted his work on learned optimism in a previous article on positive thinking and optimism.
According to a National Endowment for the Humanities article, “Seligman’s defense of optimism reaches beyond individual well-being. It embraces history, civics, literature, journalism, education, gender relations, and religion. He asks [American journalist and political commentator] Bill Moyers, ‘Has journalism no positive values?’ Seligman would like to see more children’s books like The Little Engine That Could, young adult novels that portray exemplary lives, and adult fiction featuring characters with both strengths and virtues. History is not merely a tale of woe, literature an insistence on tragedy. He believes the story of man is getting better, quoting with approval Steven Pinker’s arguments in his book Enlightenment Now that violence is decreasing, life span increasing, humanitarianism ascending, comfort and conveniences multiplying. Fifty years ago, men dominated psychology graduate departments and studied conflict, stress, and dominance. Today women predominate and emphasize “cooperation, positive emotion, engagement, trust and relationships.”
If you would like to know more, download the 3 Positive Psychology Exercises for free from the PositivePsychology.com site. According to the website, “these science-based exercises will explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students, or employees.”
Here is Martin Seligman’s TED Talk, The New Era of Positive Psychology: