Positive Psychology may be seen as a smaller sub-category within the larger field known as the Science of Happiness, that extends well beyond the social and even the psychological sciences. On the web and at many bookstore stores, a thousand self-proclaimed gurus tout various cures for mankind’s misery. Although most of these so-called science of happiness gurus have never encountered or engaged in psychology, this does not diminish their relevance to this broad empirical field. Positive psychologists are keenly interested in studying the relationships among thought, behavior, emotion, motivation, and personal well-being. A happy neurotic would likely explore the science of happiness not only in order to understand its subjective nature but also to discover how to integrate it with other traditional understandings of happiness and the self.
Concepts Of Positive Psychology
Studying the science of happiness offers an excellent opportunity for college students to become more familiar with the concepts of positive psychology in general. Emotions are such an integral part of our thinking that we often tend to think that our emotions determine things independent of our reasoning. A good scientist will want to verify these beliefs, particularly in light of recent findings that some emotions such as anger and sadness may be directly tied to biological processes and reactions to traumatic events such as accidents, cancer treatments, or traumatic brain injuries. The goal of a college student pursuing a Ph.D. in positive psychology is to find ways to manage and cope with negative emotions, as well as those emotions related to illness and injury.
One of the key components of positive psychology is kindness. Studies have shown that people who are more generous, sharing and sympathetic are happier. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, kindness may have a significant effect on your level of happiness. People who are more generous, sharing and sympathetic are happier, both in the short term and the long term. According to another study, a survey of over 900 mothers indicated that kindness was the single factor that led to more than half of the variance in child happiness.
Pursuit of happiness does not end in a pursuit of wealth and luxury, however. Pursuit of happiness also includes pursuing happiness through meaningful work, volunteering, and a sense of community. In addition, Pursuit of happiness and well-being includes pursuing happiness during times of personal growth and change. Pursuit of happiness is very important to the well-being of others and to one’s own self. It is imperative that people take time out from their normal schedules to pursue a course of action that will enrich their lives in some way. There are many organizations that can assist individuals as they pursue happiness.
Pursuit of happiness is also associated with hedonic pleasure. In terms of hedonic pleasure, we mean to say that people derive pleasure from the happiness and positive outcomes of doing things. The good things in life do not have to be tangible or material. They could also be emotional or mental or spiritual. Pursuit of happiness involves an individual taking time to evaluate his life and to make necessary changes to achieve a higher level of hedonic pleasure.
Science of happiness has a great deal to do with modern science and psychology, as well. For example, scientists now understand how the brain regulates moods and how changes in the brain, hormones, and neurotransmitters can affect the experience of well-being. This allows psychologists to study happiness more deeply. For example, neuroimaging studies have shown that people who are satisfied with their relationships, but have high levels of stress and loneliness, also have depleted levels of serotonin. Interestingly, it was noted that those who were happy with their relationships also had high levels of subjective pleasantness. This suggests that when you look at things objectively, science of happiness often helps us to find the good in what is bad.
Finally, science of happiness asks people to consider how their actions relate to the quality of hedonic pleasure they are receiving. For example, people who are in relationships will need to ask themselves how accepting they are of their partner’s flaws, and whether accepting this makes them happy. Likewise, people will also need to ask themselves if their actions enhance the quality of the relationships they have. Finally, the pursuit of happiness will also require people to examine how their decisions and actions are likely to affect the future satisfaction they will receive.