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Positive Psychology — Seligman's book “Flourish”

Just because you’re miserable doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your life.
Annette Goodheart

I’m a psychologist (actually, I have a diploma and the equivalent of a PhD, yeah!), but I am willing to admit that psychology has it’s share of problems. One of them is that it deals mainly with human deficits. We look at mental disorders and are dealing mostly with problems and deficits, alleviating suffering or preventing it — the mistakes people make when they think, the lack of knowledge or motivation people have at work … and much more.

However, at the turn of the last millennium, Martin E.P. Seligman propagated a change of perspective in psychology. Instead of looking only/mainly at the deficits humans have, psychology should also look at the positive side of life — at what makes a life worth living and which conditions are needed to enable such a life, and how to create these conditions.

That might sound trivial, but actually, there is something to it. As Seligman emphasizes: a life devoid of suffering — which a psychologist working as a therapist would regard as a success — is not a happy life. It’s an empty life. The positive elements of life are missing — and these elements are the domain of positive psychology.

seligman_2011.jpg Seligman wrote a couple of books about the topic. In 2011 he published “Flourish”, in which he gives an overview of positive psychology and introduces his well-being theory. Besides the actual theory (see below), I think (at least) three other important issues discussed in this book:



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