Seligman (2011) now says the following:
"I used to think that the topic of positive psychology was happiness, that the gold standard for measuring happiness was life satisfaction, and that the goal of positive psychology was to increase life satisfaction. I now think that the topic of positive psychology is well–being, that the gold standard for measuring well–being is flourishing, and that the goal of positive psychology is to increase flourishing. This theory, which I call well–being theory, is very different from authentic happiness theory, and the difference requires explanation.
There are three inadequacies in authentic happiness theory. The first is that the dominant popular connotation of "happiness" is inextricably bound up with being in a cheerful mood. Positive emotion is the rock–bottom meaning of happiness. Critics cogently contend that authentic happiness theory arbitrarily and preemptively redefines happiness by dragging in the desiderata of engagement and meaning to supplement positive emotion. Neither engagement nor meaning refers to how we feel, and while we may desire engagement and meaning, they are not and can never be part of what "happiness" denotes.
The second inadequacy in authentic happiness theory is that life satisfaction holds too privileged a place in the measurement of happiness. Happiness in authentic happiness theory is operationalized by the gold standard of life satisfaction, a widely researched self–report measure that asks on a 1–to– 10 scale how satisfied you are with your life, from terrible (a score of 1) to ideal (10). The goal of positive psychology follows from the gold standard–to increase the amount of life satisfaction on the planet. It turns out, however, that how much life satisfaction people report is itself determined by how good we feel at the very moment we are asked the question. Averaged over many people, the mood you are in determines more than 70 percent of how much life satisfaction you report and how well you judge your life to be going at that moment determines less than 30 percent. So the old, gold standard of positive psychology is disproportionately tied to mood, the form of happiness that the ancients snobbishly, but rightly, considered vulgar. My reason for denying mood a privileged place is not snobbishness, but liberation. A mood view of happiness consigns the 50 percent of the world's population who are "low–positive affective" to the hell of unhappiness. Even though they lack cheerfulness, this low–mood half may have more engagement and meaning in life than merry people. Introverts are much less cheery than extroverts, but if public policy is based (as we shall inquire in the final chapter) on maximizing happiness in the mood sense, extroverts get a much greater vote than introverts. The decision to build a circus rather than a library based on how much additional happiness will be produced counts those capable of cheerful mood more heavily than those less capable. A theory that counts increases in engagement and meaning along with increases in positive emotion is morally liberating as well as more democratic for public policy. And it turns out that life satisfaction does not take into account how much meaning we have or how engaged we are in our work or how engaged we are with the people we love. Life satisfaction essentially measures cheerful mood, so it is not entitled to a central place in any theory that aims to be more than a happiology.
The third inadequacy in authentic happiness theory is that positive emotion, engagement, and meaning do not exhaust the elements that people choose for their own sake. "Their own sake" is the operative phrase: to be a basic element in a theory, what you choose must serve no other master. This was Sonia's challenge; she asserted that many people live to achieve, just for achievement's sake."
"It is time to correct the imbalance between considering only negative behavior of individuals and institutions and consider the human potential needed for well–being, satisfaction, and meaningful aspects of work and life. The most basic assumption of positive psychology is that human goodness and excellence are as authentic and common as are disease, disorder, and distress" (Hoy & Tarter, 2011, p. 428).
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