Current psychology science says: positive feeling = happiness?
"The belief that we can rely on shortcuts to happiness, joy, rapture,
comfort, and ecstasy, rather than be entitled to these feelings by the exercise
of personal strengths and virtues, leads to legions of
people who in the middle of great wealth are starving spiritually.
Optimistic people tend to interpret their troubles as transient, controllable,
and specific to one situation. Pessimistic people, in contrast, believe that
their troubles last forever, undermine everything they do, and are
uncontrollable. Optimism is only one of two dozen strengths that bring about
greater well-being." .....read more about the above by
clicking on the last line in this posting......
veD has a very different scientific explanation on sukh and dukh....as can be
surmised from the knowledge of life sciences called veD so far posted on this
web site in TODAY'S PRAYER, AASHRAM NEWS , VED PAGE
and newly started TODAY'S VED LESSON
serials....PVAF would like to have your comments on
this subject....just write away by clicking on
POST A COMMENT in the title of this
Recipe for a Happy Life
Figure out what your strengths and virtues are--then use them in key areas of
By Martin Seligman, Ph.D.
From "Authentic Happiness." Used by permission of The Free Press (a division of
Simon & Schuster)
BELIEFNET.COM web site
In 1932, Cecilia O’Payne took her final vows in Milwaukee. As a novice in the
School Sisters of Notre Dame, she committed the rest of her life to the teaching
of young children. Asked to write a short sketch of her life on this momentous
occasion, she wrote:
God started my life off well by bestowing upon me grace of inestimable value…The
past year which I spent as a candidate studying at Notre Dame has been a very
happy one. Now I look forward with eager joy to receiving the Holy Habit of Our
Lady and to a life of union with Love Divine.
In the same year, in the same city, and taking the same vows, Marguerite
Donnelly wrote her autobiographical sketch:
I was born on September 26, 1909, the eldest of seven children, five girls and
two boys….My candidate year was spent in the mother-house, teaching chemistry
and second year Latin at Notre Dame Institute. With God’s grace, I intend to do
my best for our Order, for the spread of religion and for my personal
These two nuns, along with 178 of their sisters, thereby became subjects in the
most remarkable study of happiness and longevity ever done.
Investigating how long people will live and understanding what conditions
shorten and lengthen life is an enormously important but enormously knotty
scientific problem. It is well documented, for example, that people from Utah
live longer than people from the neighboring state of Nevada. But why? ….Too
many insidious (as well as healthful) factors are confounded between Nevada and
Utah for scientists to isolate the cause.
Unlike Nevadans or even Utahans, however, nuns lead routine and sheltered lives.
They all eat roughly the same bland diet. They don’t smoke or drink. They have
the same reproductive and marital histories. They don’t get sexually transmitted
diseases. They are in the same economic and social class, and they have the same
access to good medical care. So almost all the usual confounds are eliminated,
yet there is still wide variation in how long nuns live and how healthy they
are. Cecilia is still alive at age ninety-eight and has never been sick a day in
her life. In contrast, Marguerite had a stroke at age fifty-nine, and died soon
thereafter. We can be sure that their lifestyle, diet, and medical care were not
the culprits. When the novitiate essays of all 180 nuns were carefully read,
however, a very strong and surprising difference emerged. Looking back at what
Cecilia and Marguerite wrote, can you spot it?
Sister Cecilia used the words “very happy” and “eager joy,” both expressions of
effervescent good cheer. Sister Marguerite’s autobiography, in contrast,
contained not even a whisper of positive emotion. When the amount of positive
feeling was quantified by raters who did not know how long the nuns lived, it
was discovered that 90 percent of the most cheerful quarter was alive at age
eighty-five versus only 34 percent of the least cheerful quarter.
Was it really the upbeat nature of their sketches that made the difference?
Perhaps it was a difference in the degree of unhappiness expressed, or in how
much they looked forward to the future, or how devout they were, or how
intellectually complex the essays were. But research showed that none of these
factors made a difference, only the amount of positive feeling expressed in the
sketch. So it seems that a happy nun is a long-lived nun.
Why has evolution endowed us with positive feeling?
What are the functions and consequences of these emotions, beyond making us feel
Who has positive emotion in abundance, and who does
not? What enables these emotions, and what disables them?
How can you build more and lasting positive emotion into your life?
Everyone wants answers to these questions for their own lives, and it is
natural to turn to the field of psychology for answers. So it may come as a
surprise to you that psychology has badly neglected the positive side of life.
For every one hundred journal articles on sadness, there is just one on
The belief that we can rely on shortcuts to happiness,
joy, rapture, comfort, and ecstasy, rather than be entitled to these feelings by
the exercise of personal strengths and virtues, leads to legions of people who
in the middle of great wealth are starving spiritually. Positive
emotion alienated from the exercise of character leads to emptiness, to
inauthenticity, to depression, and, as we age, to the gnawing realization that
we are fidgeting until we die. The positive feeling that arises from the
exercise of strengths and virtues, rather than from the shortcuts, is authentic.
The trait of optimism helps explain how a single snapshot of the momentary
happiness of nuns could predict how long they will live.
Optimistic people tend to interpret their troubles as
transient, controllable, and specific to one situation. Pessimistic people, in
contrast, believe that their troubles last forever, undermine everything they
do, and are uncontrollable. Optimism is only one of two dozen strengths that
bring about greater well-being.
We need a psychology of rising to the occasion, because that is the missing
piece in the jigsaw puzzle of predicting human behavior. In the evolutionary
struggle for winning a mate or surviving a predator’s attack, those of our
ancestors who rose to the occasion passed on their genes; the losers did not.
…This means that we all contain ancient strengths inside of us that we may not
know about until we are truly challenged…
When you read about these strengths, you will also find that some are deeply
characteristic of you, whereas others are not. I call the former your signature
strengths, and one of my purposes is to distinguish these from strengths that
are less a part of you. I do not believe that you should devote overly much
effort to correcting your weaknesses. Rather I believe that the highest success
in living and the deepest emotional satisfaction comes from building and using
your signature strengths.