21 Apr Happiness: a new frontier?
According to Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D., Positive Psychologist and former president of the American Psychological Association, the quest for happiness has existed since the time of Aristotle. What makes the journey towards understanding and obtaining happiness in 2008 different from the journey humans have taken for thousands of years? Why is happiness such a hot “new” area of research in the field of Positive Psychology today?
The study of happiness is important because it has been found to lead to benefits other than just feeling good. Happy individuals have been found in the research to be healthier, more energetic, successful, socially engaged, and to have a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in their lives. Research also shows that happy people have less cognitive decline, live longer, are more resilient, are better performers, and think more effectively and expansively than unhappy people (Wade, 2005).
Positive Psychologists are not the only scientists that believe we can train ourselves to be happier. The National Institute of Mental Health is currently backing a five-year, $1 million dollar grant geared towards exploring the “potential of happiness-sustaining strategies, such as expressing gratitude and reflecting on happy moments, to permanently bolster ones happiness level” (Novotney, 2008). Other research teams are developing new positive therapeutic treatments that focus on boosting positive emotions about the past, teaching us how to savor the present, and increasing the amount of engagement and meaning in our lives” (Wade, 2005).
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