Positive Psychology Takes a New Look at Happiness

Positive Psychology Takes a New Look at Happiness

via Psychology Today by Susan Krauss Whitbourne

The emphasis in positive psychology has, since its inception, focused on happiness as the key feature of well-being. The most widely-used survey studies of well-being typically ask participants to rate their current, momentary, happiness on a scale of 1 to 10. Using these results, entire countries base their policy decisions on how happy their citizens say they are.

Ask yourself how you would rate your happiness, this very moment, on that 1 to 10 scale. As you do so, what becomes the basis for your response? Did something good just happen to you? Were you scanning your social media feeds and a friend just posted a funny video? On the other hand, have you just learned some disturbing personal news? Did a friend fall ill to the coronavirus? Or were you scanning social media and learned that a favorite celebrity passed away? You may therefore be providing two very different happiness ratings depending on the chain of events to which you were recently exposed.

This idea of rating how happy you are as the key factor to examine in positive psychology, as you can see, has some inherent messiness. According to a new paper by GUI Galway’s Michael J. Hogan (2020), that type of positive psychology is version 1.0, or PP1.0. Advocated by University of Pennsylvania’s Martin Seligman, for example, PP1.0 “pointed to simple happiness solutions” as “a stark contrast with dystopian worldviews.” In other words, positive psychology in its initial approach stood as an antidote to what you might call “negative psychology,” or an emphasis on psychopathology rather than psychological health.

Now, returning to your own happiness rating, the assumption of PP1.0 is that you’re marking your score based on how good you are feeling at the moment. However, the new version of positive psychology, or PP2.0, emphasizes that a more useful measure of well-being takes into account more than just your fleeting happiness. As Hogan observes, PP2.0 rests on the four pillars of virtue, meaning, resilience, and well-being rather than on the single criterion of happiness. You may not be “happy” right now, but you can still feel your life has meaning and that you have the inner strength to cope with the challenges that come your way.

To address this disconnect between happiness and deeper levels of satisfaction, Hogan proposes a model that characterizes people as falling into one of four well-being types. One group tries to optimize their positive emotions while also denying the reality of some of their negative experiences. A second feels unhappy because they see the complexity of the world around them but fail to sustain their own positive affect. The third group, most at risk of poor psychological health, includes people who have a negative view of themselves and the world. Finally, those in the fourth group maintain high levels of positive affect while, at the same time, allowing themselves to empathize with the problems in the world around them…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE

#happiness #happy #psychology #positivepsychology