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Scholarly Publications

by Aaron Ahuvia, Neil Thin, Dan Haybron, Robert Biswas-Diener, Mathieu Ricard, Jean Timsit, 2015
Few would deny that happiness arises from a complex interaction of internal and external factors, like optimism on the one hand and money on the other. Yet research, as well as practical strategies for promoting happiness, tends to focus narrowly on one side or the other. A typical study, for instance, might examine the correlation between happiness and an internal variable like optimism, or an external variable like income. And practical strategies commonly divide into “change the world” versus “change your mind” approaches: promote health and wealth, for example, or cultivate gratitude for what you already have. This paper explores how our understanding of happiness is enhanced by “interactionist” approaches that emphasize the complex webs of interactions and feedbacks that give rise to happiness and unhappiness. While implicitly interactionist themes have increasingly characterized research on happiness, we anticipate that an explicit recognition of the interactionist perspective will foster greater attention to the complexities of happiness, particularly in the domain of human sociality, which involves especially rich and potent webs of interaction. A further upshot, we believe, is a greater awareness of our co-responsibility for one another’s happiness.
Keywords: happiness, income, quality of life, well-being, wellbeing, care giving, co-responsibility, felicitation

by Seligman, Railton, Baumeister, & Sripada, 2013

by Seligman, Ernst, Gillham, Reivich, & Linkins, 2009

by Seligman, Rashid, & Parks, 2006

by Duckworth, Steen, & Seligman, 2005

by Seligman, Parks, & Steen, 2004

Psychology since World War II has been largely devoted to repairing weakness and understanding suffering. Towards that end, we have made considerable gains. We have a classification of mental illness that allows international collaboration, and through this collaboration we have developed effective psychotherapeutic or pharmacological treatments for 14 major mental disorders. However, while building a strong science and practice of treating mental illness, we largely forgot about everyday well-being. Is the absence of mental illness and suffering sufficient to let individuals and communities flourish? Were all disabling conditions to disappear, what would make life worth living? Those committed to a science of positive psychology can draw on the effective research methods developed to understand and treat mental illness. Results from a new randomized, placebo-controlled study demonstrate that people are happier and less depressed three months after completing exercises targeting positive emotion. The ultimate goal of positive psychology is to make people happier by understanding and building positive emotion, gratification and meaning. Towards this end, we must supplement what we know about treating illness and repairing damage with knowledge about nurturing well-being in individuals and communities.

Keywords: positive psychology; happiness; optimism; meaning; depression; interventions

by Gable and Haidt, 2005

by Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005