I learn a lot about others and their ways of relating to life in general, but I also learned a great deal about my own journey through life. Most of my life I felt that I had been standing in front of a locked door with no way to open it, yet I knew that the secret of my happiness involved the understanding that was contained inside. As a reasonably intelligent being, I have always felt the need to analyze and investigate my path, yet; highly functioning people often experience more angst.
Although the roots of Positive Psychology go back to the twentieth century with the development of humanistic psychology involving the holistic approach, the fruit of that development has appeared in a much larger focus since 1998, when Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi put together a comprehensive approach that focuses more on positive human functioning, personal growth and development, and a positive way for humans to relate to their journeys through life. (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2007) Prior to that, most of the psychological theories and approaches had been at finding a way to relate human behavior to mental illness and disease instead of finding a way to encourage and identify personal strength, resilience, and emotional well being.
In 1958 Maria Jahoda developed six criteria for mental health, which included: accurate attitudes toward self, growth and self-actualization, an integrated personality, autonomy, an accurate perception of reality, and environmental mastery. In 1985, Carol Ryff went on to develop that further to construct six criteria for psychological well-being which include: self-acceptance, personal growth, positive relations with others, autonomy, the purpose for life, and environmental mastery.
(Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2007) In general, happiness is relative to many factors, yet I cannot buy happiness; the amount of happiness does not increase with the amount of money I have once my survival needs have been met. The “ Hedonic Treadmill” of beauty, fame, and money can never bring me lasting happiness as there is always another goal to conquer if I compare myself to others and continue the rat race. (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2007) This was also discovered to be true for cultures around the world.
The greatest indicator of happiness was not wealth, although if survival needs were not being met, wealth certainly played a role; however, the amount of happiness increased to the degree that they were interconnected in positive, healthy relationships, felt they were able to make a contribution to the world around them, and felt confident that they could depend on each other for survival.
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