Day 772

Positive thinking and Positive Psychology are not so positive as implicit within them is a resistance to the negative. I believe that positive and negative are two sides of the same coin. As humans we place undue focus on the negatives. So, it is good to shift our attention to the positives and see what makes happy people happy.

Martin Seligman is credited as the father of Positive Psychology and its efforts to scientifically explore human potential. In his book ‘Authentic Happiness’ (2002), he describes a useful equation:

Seligman’s Happiness Equation


H = Happiness
S = Sum of our genetic capacity for happiness (50%)
C = Circumstances (10%)
V = Voluntary Control (40%)

S and C are pretty much beyond our control. V is the only one we can do something about through our thoughts and actions. There are 4 ways to think about happiness:

  • Pleasures (sensory and immediate; we can become numbed to them. Eg. handbags)
  • Gratifications (absorbing; may not be pleasurable at the time but take us towards something worthwhile; create a positive memory or strengthen our social networks. Eg. a game of tennis)
  • Meaning (Using our strengths in service of something larger than ourselves like family, community, an institution, knowledge, justice or something spiritual. Eg. volunteering)
  • Flow (the sort of feeling we may get from a task that fully engages our abilities but doesn’t test them to breaking point. Eg. writing or music)

Top tip:

“Use your signature strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than you are.” ~ Martin Seligman

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