Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Can Virtue Make You Happy?

I didn't catch this article in last Sunday's NY Times Magazine, and I've only read about a fifth of it now, but I'm eager to finish it. I remember reading something about positive psychology around a year ago and being intrigued. I might have even bought a book (I sometimes lose track of the books I buy, unfortunately). The whole thing could be hogwash (probably is; its truest observations seem like plain common sense, and some of what it recommends reeks of New Age silliness), but there are elements that seem worth considering. An excerpt:
Positive psychology brings the same attention to positive emotions (happiness, pleasure, well-being) that clinical psychology has always paid to the negative ones (depression, anger, resentment). Psychoanalysis once promised to turn acute human misery into ordinary suffering; positive psychology promises to take mild human pleasure and turn it into a profound state of well-being. “Under certain circumstances, people — they’re not desperate or in misery — they start to wonder what’s the best thing life can offer,” says Martin Seligman, one of the field’s founders, who heads the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Thus positive psychology is not only about maximizing personal happiness but also about embracing civic engagement and spiritual connectedness, hope and charity. “Aristotle taught us virtue isn’t virtue unless you choose it,” Seligman says.


Blogger lmha said...

Ahhh. A label for my outlook. this totally fits me. perhaps I should read more about it. Then again, I'm living it, so why read about it.

11:19 PM  

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