Transition to Application of Positive Psychology
Happiness is at the epitome of many human beings’ goals. Indeed, many people are willing to put every effort in order to have happiness in their lives. Unfortunately, not many people have been able to achieve the goal. This could explain why quite a large number of psychiatrists are making colossal sums of money, advising people on how they could be happy. Indeed, numerous publications have been written outlining how individuals can be happy.
One of the most recognized publications is known as “The five ways to well being”. This publication outlines that the well-being of a person is founded on five actions in the day-to-day life. An individual needs to connect with other people with whom he interacts. An individual’s family, colleagues, neighbors and friends, are the cornerstones of his life and, therefore, the individual should invest time strengthening them. An individual should also be active and take part in an activity that he enjoys and one that fits his fitness and mobility level. An individual should also take notice of his surroundings, taking the time to appreciate the beauty and savor the moment. He should be a ware of the surroundings since reflecting on the experiences would help him to appreciate the things that matter. Fourth, the individual should ensure that he keeps learning. He should strive to learn something new every time and set new challenges now and then. This will allow him to gain confidence and have fun while at it. Lastly, the individual should strive to give back to the community. Individuals would achieve this by doing ordinary things such as volunteering, doing something congenial to friends or even joining community groups. This allows the individual’s happiness to be connected to the larger community, which would be an incredibly rewarding phenomenon. In essence, this would connect the individual with those around him.
“The five ways to wellbeing” is quite different from David Cameron’s Happiness Index. David Cameron opined that the country’s GDP was not comprehensive enough to measure the progress of the nation. He drew inspiration from the notion by Robert Kennedy, a US senator who opined that the GDP measures everything but not the things that make life worthwhile. The Indices would be quantifying or measuring the general well-being of the people in United Kingdom. It comes up with ways to measure the people’s sustainability and well- being while quantifying their satisfaction with life. In conducting the study, the two indicators will be used. There will be the subjective indicators on how individuals feel and the objective measurement of things that affect people’s wellbeing. The subjective part has four questions with a scale zero to ten. The questions ask how satisfied people are, how happy and anxious they were the previous day and the extent to which they feel that their lives are worthwhile. In essence, the happiness index aims at systematically the subjective well-being, which is essentially part of the national accounting system. The government will use the data from the subjective measurement to inform its policy choices.
These “Five ways to well being” and the “Happiness Index” are built on the positive psychology. This is a new branch of psychology that aims at promoting human strengths such as flow, joy, creativity, achievement, optimal performance and responsibility. In essence, it examines the ways in which ordinary people can have fulfilled and happy lives.
Scholars argue that the happiness in positive psychology is nothing more than the hedonistic pursuit of pleasure. The scholars opine that this definition is rather warped. They opine that happiness is the pursuit of a proper life, where fulfillment and meaning are achieved by transcending the immediate impulses and desires, striving for ideals and cultivating virtues that make us human (Alistair, 2008. Pg. 78).
In addition, it is noteworthy that the assumptions made by the positive psychologists in their research are warped. On their perception of quality life, they opine that happiness is flavored by three attributes. There is a pleasant life that is characterized by positive emotions, the meaningful life that is characterized by serving the purposes and goals that go beyond the individual self. There is also the abundant life, which is characterized by the gratification that one experiences from practicing his signature strength. In essence, the morality of the actions does not matter (Alistair, 2008 pg. 78). If an individual derives happiness in being a terrorist, then that is happiness. This is because the science does not wish to value one life over others. The lack of a moral map undermines the credibility of positive psychology (Eysenck, 1998, pg 57).
Moreover, it is surprising that positive psychology assumes that individuals can be collectively categorized as optimistic or pessimistic. It is absurd to assume that the expression of an individual’s signature strengths or even virtues and positive traits in captivating activities is the foundation of well being (Haidt, 2006, pg 112).
Positive psychology is also based on the idea that all people are striving to achieve certain goals (Layard, 2006, pg 96). In essence, it conceives behavior as intentional with actions that are determined by goals and motives. It suggests that every person can achieve the goals, if they have sufficiently positive attitudes (Schoch, 2007, Pg 76). However, it is an illusion to believe that all individuals can achieve their goals, especially when these two are judged in terms of recognition and social status. In addition, if the goals and achievement must be realistic in line with the current conditions, how different would they be with the actions and plans that would have taken place?
Alistair M, (2008). A Critique of Positive Psychology or “The new Science of Happiness”. Journal of Philosophy of Education, Vol 42, No 3-4,
Eysenck, M. (1998). Psychology: an integrated approach. Harlow: Pearson.
Gable, S. L and Haidt. J (2005). What (and why) is Positive Psychology?, Review of general Psychology, 9.2, pp. 103-110.
Haidt, J (2006). The Happiness hypothesis. London: Arrow Books
Layard, R (2006). Happiness: lessons from a new science. London: Penguin Books
Schoch, R. 2007). The secrets of happiness. London: Profile Books
(Alistair, 2008. Pg. 78) (Eysenck, 1998, pg 57) (Gable & Haidt, 2005, pg 107) (Haidt, 2006, pg 112) (Layard, 2006, pg 96) (Schoch, 2007. Pg 76)