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Positive Psychology #3

by Ralph Hesse


One of the major features in Positive Psychology is the study of how people attain “life satisfaction”, or a sense of wellbeing. What separates those who achieve this from those who don’t? Remarkably, situational issues such as health and wealth are not the most important factors. In a stunning study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University (1978) people who won the lottery were compared to people who suffered a catastrophic accident and were resultantly paraplegic or quadriplegic. Each group was asked after the event to compare their level of happiness from just before the event. Incredibly, those that lost their physical abilities due to an accident rated themselves somewhat happier than those who won the lottery. So why is that?

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One of the more exciting developments in the field of psychology has been a new direction called Positive Psychology. Positive Psychology as a field grew from the dissatisfaction among some psychologists that the focus of clinicians centered only upon addressing the problems of mental illness. People were seen as either having a mental illness or not suffering from a mental illness.

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