Positive Psychology and the Science of Happiness – work, love and play

Positive Psychology and the Science of Happiness – work, love and play

by Chris Peterson (Psychology Today)

In addressing the purpose of life, Sigmund Freud famously said “Work and love, love and work – that’s all there is.” With all respect to Freud, I disagree. He left out play.

Play is not the silly sibling of work and love. Play is built as deeply within people as are work and love. Ethologists have addressed the function of play among the young of many mammalian species The specific behaviors that these youngsters rehearse and perfect in their rough-and-tumble play are precisely those they later use as adults to hunt, to escape predators, and to establish a dominance hierarchy. Said another way, play teaches lessons that make the serious tasks of work and love possible.

Although we have been taught not to attribute human motives to our animal cousins, it is nonetheless difficult to watch kittens or puppies gambol about without concluding that they are having “fun” in the process. Suffice it to say that we derive pleasure from watching them.

And at least among people, play can take on a life of its own. We certainly enjoy play, not only as children but also throughout our lives. Leisure activities (play) are a common source of flow and a robust predictor of how satisfied we are with our lives. In play we find and pursue our passions.

I propose that work, love, and play provide yet another useful way to organize the concerns of positive psychology and happiness…

…to read the full article, and think about happiness in a new way – just click here