This chapter explores positive psychology’s attempt to identify significant human virtues. Early in the positive psychology movement it was recognized that in order to advance research on human excellence, there was a need to develop a classification system complete with measurable strengths that would be meaningful to the good life. The chapter describes and defines the six core virtues, and also explores some of the more specific human strengths thought to be clustered with each virtue. The author believe that the most significant achievement of the Values in Action (VIA) project was to identify virtues and strengths that appear to transcend time and culture. Finally the chapter emphasizes and recommends two other attempts to identify transcendent virtues that come from outside of psychology. To emphasize one virtue without the others is bound to result in an imbalanced life.
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This chapter helps the reader to learn happiness matters. Happiness is not simply a nice consequence of a successful life. Indeed, happiness itself is consequential. Research has shown that there are a number of beneficial by-products to experiencing positive emotions frequently: better relationships, better health, and better occupational success. Lyubomirsky’s theory highlights the importance of the intentionality of positive activities and this brings up an important point about happy people’s pursuits. As positive psychology and the study of happiness come more and more into the public eye, the author increasingly see the need for science to be at the heart of positive psychology. The positive psychology movement has identified six primary virtues that are essential to the good life: wisdom, courage, love, justice, temperance, and transcendence. Although these virtues vary somewhat in their relationships to subjective well-being (SWB), they all may be seen as critical to the life well lived.
This book is about all the exciting aspects that have been investigated in the science of positive psychology. One of the reasons that the interest in positive psychology has increased so much in recent years is that people are interested in happiness, and they’re interested in enhancing their well-being. All conceptions of positive psychology involve something to do with the “positive side of life”, which is clearly contrasted with the negative side of life. The positive side of life seems to go by many names, such as happiness, flourishing, thriving, a worthwhile life, a meaningful life, a fulfilling life, or “what goes right in life”. The study of positive subjective states involves two related but distinct areas of study: positive emotions and subjective well-being (SWB). Positive psychologists often refer to two types of happiness: hedonic and eudaimonic. Any treatments of the history of happiness spend little time on ancient Jewish contributions to our understanding of well-being. From the early Christian tradition, writers encouraged enduring suffering now in the light of future happiness in the afterlife. The book focuses on two theories that are both representative and helpful to the field of positive psychology: the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) and the Hedonic Adaptation Prevention (HAP) model. Gratitude and compassion are very important to the good life; however, when we also emphasize strengths such as prudence, humility, self-control, and integrity, we are much more likely to flourish. The issue of Internet relationships also brings up an alternative form of relationships: Our relationships with our pets. The book attempts to describe the cognitive characteristics of happy people.
- Go to chapter: Foundational Concepts and Issues of Positive Psychology: The What and Why of Happiness
This chapter shows that how positive psychology is in fact important to psychology as a whole. It attempts to explain the foundations of positive psychology. It looks at basic conceptions of happiness and subjective well-being (SWB) including all the debates therein, it explores the history of happiness, it debates the criticisms of positive psychology, it examines important theories of SWB and positive emotion, and finally it gives a taste of research in positive psychology. The chapter demonstrates the importance of the study of happiness and SWB. Moreover, as Fredrickson’s theory has shown, positive emotions are crucial, in that they broaden the authors’ momentary thought/action readiness and build essential personal resources for the future. Happiness and joy are consequential, as Helen Keller affirmed, “Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow”.
This chapter investigates the genetic makeup of happy people, and draws some conclusions about biological contributions to happiness. It discusses the behavioral characteristics of those who are happy. The chapter delves into an important area of research in positive psychology: looking at the personality traits that predict happiness. It shows that happy people are active in their work and leisure life, and extends this to a more general conclusion: Happy people tend to be active people. Contrary to the stereotype of happiness producing “contented cows”, happy people appear to be actively engaged in life. Religious and spiritual people tend to be happier than those who are not. A healthy humility may have an important role to play in our happiness. Humility helps us accept who we really are, so we can get past ourselves to focus on others and the beauty all around us.