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PATH IN PSYCHOLOGY Published in Cooperation with Publications for the Advancement of Theory and History in Psychology .
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In short, positive emotions are frequently paired with happy circumstances. And while we might be tempted to assume that happiness causes positive emotions, Seligman wonders, instead, whether positive emotions cause happiness.

If so, what does this mean for our life and our happiness? The strengths and virtues [ One notable contribution that Seligman has made for Positive Psychology is his cross-cultural study to create an "authoritative classification and measurement system for the human strengths".

Martin Seligman

He and Dr. Christopher Peterson, a top expert in the field of hope and optimism, worked to create a classification system that would help psychologists measure positive psychology's effectiveness. They used good character to measure its efficacy because good character was so consistently and strongly linked to lasting happiness. In order to remain true to their efforts to create a universal classification system, they made a concerted effort to examine and research a wide variety of religious and philosophical texts from all over the world Seligman , p.

They were surprised to find 6 particular virtues that were valued in almost every culture, valued in their own right not just as a means to another end and are attainable. Seligman clarifies the difference between talents and strengths by defining strengths as moral traits that can be developed, learned, and that take effort.


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Talents, on the other hand, tend to be inherent and can only be cultivated from what exists rather than what develops through effort Seligman , p. For example, many people consider musical ability as more or less inherent and can only be strengthened. On the other hand, one can cultivate the strength of patience, which can lead to the virtue of temperance.

Seligman provides a detailed classification of the different virtues as well as a strengths survey that is available on his website: www. Seligman sees the healthy exercise and development of strengths and virtues as a key to the good life — a life in which one uses one's "signature strengths every day in the main realms of your life to bring abundant gratification and authentic happiness. Positive emotion alienated from the exercise of character leads to emptiness, inauthenticity, depression and, as we age, to the gnawing realization that we are fidgeting until we die Seligman , p.

Here Seligman states, rather dismally, that there are no shortcuts to happiness. While the pleasant life might bring more positive emotion to one's life, to foster a deeper more enduring happiness, we need to explore the realm of meaning. Without the application of one's unique strengths and the development of one's virtues towards an end bigger than one's self, one's potential tends to be whittled away by a mundane, inauthentic, empty pursuit of pleasure.

Seligman expands on the work of his contemporary and colleague, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in the area of "flow" to explain, in part, what he means by the meaningful life. Investing oneself into creative work creates a greater sense of meaning in life and accordingly, a greater sense of happiness. Seligman goes one step further than Csikszentmihalyi by exploring the experience of flow and the loss of self-consciousness that is involved in acts of altruism and of kindness. Kindness [ The exercise of kindness is a gratification in contrast to pleasure.

As a gratification, it calls on your strengths to rise to an occasion and meet a challenge, particularly in the service of others. How can we use our strengths and virtues to achieve a meaningful life? One example could be a gifted martial artist who experiences great pleasure in perfecting her skills in karate and winning prizes in tournaments. Yet then she discovers that one autistic child she is teaching shows signs of enormous improvement.

This makes her feels so good that she opens a class for children with special needs. Seeing these children overcome their challenges gives her still greater happiness.

Classics in the History of Psychology -- Yerkes ()

Finally, she becomes so absorbed in the happiness of these children that she forgets about her own happiness! This situation enables her to enrich the lives of others while engaging her own strengths and virtues. Seligman, Martin E. International Journal of Wellbeing Vol. Martin Seligman talks about positive psychology. Martin Seligman's Learned Optimism is used in an intervention for a depressed elderly patient named Sigmund Freud.

Martin Seligman. Martin Seligman: A Little Background Born in , Seligman is credited as the father of Positive Psychology and its efforts to scientifically explore human potential. The Three Dimensions of Happiness [Positive Psychology] takes you through the countryside of pleasure and gratification, up into the high country of strength and virtue, and finally to the peaks of lasting fulfillment: meaning and purpose Seligman , p. Dealing with the Past Among Seligman's arsenal for combating unhappiness with the past is that which we commonly and curiously find among the wisdom of the ages: gratitude and forgiveness.

Optimism about the Future When looking to the future, Seligman recommends an outlook of hope and optimism.

Happiness in the Present After making headway with these strategies for dealing with negative emotions of the past and building hope and optimism for the future, Seligman recommends breaking habituation, savoring experiences and using mindfulness as ways to increase happiness in the present. The Role of Positive Emotion Many studies have shown that positive emotions are frequently accompanied by fortunate circumstances e. Virtues One notable contribution that Seligman has made for Positive Psychology is his cross-cultural study to create an "authoritative classification and measurement system for the human strengths".

Altruism Seligman goes one step further than Csikszentmihalyi by exploring the experience of flow and the loss of self-consciousness that is involved in acts of altruism and of kindness. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. A theoretical discussion of the role of the self and personal relevance in autobiographical memory formation and retrieval. Relates the proposal to empirical work. Nelson, Katherine. The psychological and social origins of autobiographical memory. Psychological Science — DOI: With a particular focus on the development of autobiographical memory, this review piece situates the origins of memory in a sociocultural context.

Provides a clear theoretical formulation of how language and narrative are integral in autobiographical memory development. Tulving, Endel.

The 50 Most Influential Living Psychologists in the World

Episodic memory: From mind to brain. Annual Review of Psychology — With a particular focus on mental time travel autonoetic consciousness as the core defining feature of episodic memory, this seminal article highlights differences between episodic and semantic memory and the development of the study of episodic memory e.

The 50 Most Influential Psychologists in the World

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Sign up for My OBO. Already a member? Publications Pages Publications Pages. Subscriber sign in. Forgot password? Don't have an account? Sign in via your Institution. Sign in with your library card. Related Articles about About Related Articles close popup. General Overviews Autobiographical memory is generally considered a subset of episodic memory.

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