Positive Psychology, Positive Thinking and Happiness!

Positive Psychology, Positive Thinking and Happiness!

I really like Sarah Berry's writing. 

And more often than not I agree with most of what she has to say. 

And I even agree with this recent article (below) in which she questions some aspects of positive psychology. 

Because I don't think anything she notes, or anything she quotes from her two sources, conflicts with the positive psychology perspective on happiness. 

Positive psychologists don't claim "positive thinking" as a path to being happy all they time; in fact positive psychologists don't argue one can or should try to be happy all the time. What we, positive psychologists do recommend for happiness and resilience and other forms of success is (among other things) optimism. And optimism partially involves focusing on positives BUT IMPORTANTLY it also involves being realistic and facing up to the cold hard realities in a constructive way. 

So with that caveat in mind, I still like and encourage you to read Sarah's article as it has much of interest and use to say to those of us seeking happiness and a good life…

by Sarah Berry from the SMH

It always seems astounding that those who seemingly "have it all" remain unsatisfied.

We assume that, surely, once we realise certain aspirations in life any lurking sadness, loneliness or sense of inadequacy will disappear. Suddenly our lives will become as sparkly and pristine as the illusion itself.

It can come as a rude awakening then that life doesn't work this way; that irrespective of achieving our image of happiness, success or the desirable life, shit still happens and pain still persists.

The problem, perhaps, is that although perceiving a life where we are immune from suffering provides temporary relief, it puts a one-dimensional and ultimately disappointing spin on reality.

And this arguably is where the positive thinking, fake it 'til you make it, movement fails.

"Positive thinking … is usually wasted on the brain," says neuropsychologist at Berkeley University, Dr Rick Hanson, in his new book Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence.

His reasoning is that our neurons fire and wire more on the negative. This is because, back in the day, our response to natural hazards and predators determined our survival. We needed to act and learn fast or die. Whereas, while positive experiences are all very nice, they did not affect our survival in the same way.

The idea is that, for this reason, it is harder to make positive experiences stick neurally. So simply prescribing positive thinking or faking it until you theoretically make it is like sprinkling sugar on the surface of a reality that remains essentially the same.

"I know a lot of people who have this kind of positive, look on the bright side yappity yap, but deep down they're very frightened, angry, sad, disappointed, hurt, or lonely. It hasn't sunk in. Think of all the people who tell you why the world is a good place, but they're still jerks," Hanson told The Atlantic last week.

"I think positive thinking's helpful, but in my view, it's not so much as positive thinking as clear thinking…

…keep reading the full & original article HERE