Positive Psychology and Personality Theory

One pauses to question why this field is so much more interested in foibles rather than strengths?One reason is compassion. Those who are suffering are assumed to need more help than those who are fine. Another reason is that funding agencies prioritize research on the relief and eventual cure of mental illness. Still, another reason lies in our theories about psychological processes. Negative events seem to have more impact than positive events and that information about bad things is processed more thoroughly than information about good. (Gable Haidt, 2005)The realization that Psychology has had more emphasis on the negative than on more positive topics like the character-building. happiness. implications of a pleasant childhood. well-being. achievement, etc has paved the way for the emergence of Positive Psychology.Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the founders of Positive Psychology put together a special issue of the American Psychologist in 2000 dealing with various aspects of the new area of Psychology, giving impetus to its further development. Over the years, it has gained much attention, research, and application in many disciplines. In hindsight, people were realizing that many were already practicing it even before it was given an appropriate name because it addressed a basic need – the human need to feel joy and be in a state of well-being. Motivational speakers and inspirational writers reaped much adulation from their audiences and readers who view them as dispensers of wisdom. Andrew Matthews, a cartoonist, writer, and a much sought-after speaker wrote a book entitled Being Happy, which became a worldwide hit not only because of his hilarious cartoons interspersed in his meaty text, but more because his simple, direct and often humorous approach to dealing with life’s challenges.

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