23 Feb Real happiness is…sharing with others
Check out this great summary of the happiness & positive psychology movement by Ross Gittins from the SMH (here)…
Fed up with all the wrangling and speculation over who should be leading the Labor Party? Want something more substantial? How about the meaning of life – that weighty enough for you?
The question has been an object of contemplation by clerics and philosophers throughout the ages, of course, but in more recent times many psychologists and even a few economists have taken to studying it.
Psychologists' traditional focus has been on the abnormal – on relieving misery, helping people suffering from depression, alcoholism, schizophrenia, trauma and the like.
But for at least the past 30 years some psychologists and economists have been researching the nature of happiness. A spate of books has been written on the subject (including one by yours truly).
Then, about a decade ago, there sprang up among psychologists a new school known as ''positive psychology'', dedicated to helping the normal live more satisfying lives. The practitioners of positive psychology seemed to take over the happiness business.
The person most responsible for starting the positive psychology movement is Professor Martin Seligman, of the University of Pennsylvania. Seligman regularly works in Australia, and will speak at the Happiness and its Causes conference in Sydney next week, subtitled Life, Death and Everything. But is happiness all there is to the meaning of life? A lot of people doubt it. The spate of happiness books is now prompting a flow of anti-happiness books – including one by our own (eminently sensible) Hugh Mackay.
I think a lot of the problem lies with the word happiness. It's an eye-catching, emotive word beloved of book publishers and headline writers. But what does it actually mean? Different things to different people.
The critics interpret it very narrowly, as being perpetually in an upbeat, ho-ho-ho mood. And perhaps being a Pollyanna – looking on the bright side of everything and refusing to acknowledge problems.
If that's what happiness means it deserves to be ripped into by the critics. It's neither possible nor desirable to live like Dr Pangloss, and you could do yourself a mischief trying to.
Seligman points out that such an ideal favours those with an extroverted personality, disadvantaging the half of the population who are less expressive and more introverted…
…keep reading the full and original article HERE