What We Learned From Two Giants of Positive Psychology

What We Learned From Two Giants of Positive Psychology

The science of Positive Psychology has developed enormously over the last few decades.

But we still owe a huge debt of gratitude to the original founders; two of whom have sadly died in recent times.

This great article from The Greater Good, by James McConchie, sums up some of the key lessons we’ve learned from two of THE GREATS – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Ed Diener …

Many of us suffered terrible losses in 2021. In the field of positive psychology, we lost two of our most influential scholars: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Ed Diener. In their honor, I’d like to remember and appreciate the contributions they made to the understanding of human flourishing.Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D.Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D.

Csikszentmihalyi was born in 1934 in what today is Hungary. He grew up curious and spirited, but his world changed with the outbreak of World War II and the instability that followed. After attending a lecture by Carl Jung as a young adult, he left for the United States and eventually landed at the University of Chicago, setting out to understand why people are the way that they are.

As a student at Claremont Graduate University, I studied with Csikszentmihalyi. With Martin Seligman, Csikszentmihalyi formalized the idea of a field of study that focused on human potential instead of human limitations: positive psychology. But what I was left with after my years studying with him, besides immense awe at his accomplishments, was his unending thirst for knowledge—and how he saw his place as contributing to ideas that could help make the world a better place.

Ed Diener grew up in very different surroundings, but was seemingly driven by a similar desire to understand the conditions that help people to thrive. He was born in Glendale, California, and was raised on a farm in Central California. After receiving his doctorate from the University of Washington, he spent 34 years teaching and researching at the University of Illinois. In that time, he pioneered work on subjective well-being, the study of the ways in which people evaluate their own lives.Ed Diener, Ph.D.Ed Diener, Ph.D.

Specifically, Diener sought to understand what makes people happy. He made such strides in that pursuit that he was nicknamed Dr. Happiness. His work has helped to undercover what happy people tend to have in common, as well as what does (and doesn’t) make people happy. His legacy continues to be felt in the field of psychology, as both his daughters (Marissa and Mary Beth) and his son (Robert) are also psychologists.

Both Csikszentmihalyi and Diener shifted our understanding of human behavior, and more importantly provided insights about how we can be happier and more productive. It is difficult to summarize the insights of these great thinkers, but in the spirit of honoring their memory, here are 10 ideas, concepts, and insights that they left us with.

1. Our well-being can (and should) be examined scientifically.

As founders of positive psychology, Csikszentmihalyi and Diener are partly responsible for introducing a new way of thinking within psychological science. Before the early 2000s, psychology was seen mostly as the study of human deficits. While an important undertaking, this focus on understanding and fixing what was wrong with people largely ignored what was right with people. That is, Csikszentmihalyi and Diener helped to popularize the scientific study of the qualities, from gratitude to grit, that can help us to live our best lives…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE