understanding of happiness and wellbeing


understanding of happiness and wellbeing

Is positive psychology the recipe for real happiness?

Martin Seligman’s “The understanding of happiness and wellbeing” is based on the application of positive psychology. Known for his stance on the application of positive psychology, Seligman’s theory claims that the reenactment of positive psychology is the main source of achieving complete happiness.  This theory has been supported and opposed by both professionals and interested parties in this area of expertise. Positive psychology is one of the areas of psychology that has been used to solve several worldly issues. This has, in turn, led to the critical analysis of Seligman’s theory which touches on how to achieve real happiness. Seligman’s change in his stance on the notion of real happiness has brought about several arguments on whether the application of his new theory produces effective results.


The purpose of this paper is to formulate arguments that are based on three claims made in the book by the author. The paper will state a proposed theory and provide an analysis of the text in question through the use of quotes in the book. According to the nature of the topic, there is no wrong and right answer. The evidence is thus based on alternative views that may support or oppose the notion in general.

Real happiness is defined as having wellbeing. Wellbeing is the observation of happiness, peace of mind, excellent health and security in all aspects of life. For one to be content with their life, they need to acquire an attitude that gears them towards achieving well being. It is impossible to lead a life that does not have challenges. It is thus essential for individuals to learn how to balance their challenges with their achievements. Seligman had initially based his whole argument on happiness. Over the years, this notion is no longer holds much weight due to his introduction of new factors to the equation.

“If you remove unhappiness from a patient, you do not get a happy patient; rather you get an empty patient”.

Seligman’s conduction of further research led to the contradiction of his own work by introducing new laws that allow for happiness to prevail. The psychologist’s latest research involves the integration of four factors namely: positive energy, engagement in one’s activities, accomplishment, good relationships. For one to be able to experience true happiness, they have to encompass all these qualities as a whole. If an unhappy person eliminates the factor that is causing them to be unhappy, they reduce the source of their unhappiness. This does not necessarily mean that they have been rid of their unhappiness. There are other factors that make human beings life have more meaning. This theory has been summed up by the use of PERMA. The possession of all these qualities forms the recipe for real happiness.

Positive feelings attract positive results. Positive feelings involve generating goodwill when confronted with various situations in life. This theory states that individuals should look at a glass half full as opposed to half empty. If a person is filled with positive thoughts, they adopt a mindset that encourages them to work toward achieving what they intend to achieve vice versa. The world is full of hardships and trials. It is easy to lose focus due to the number of curveballs that are thrown at human beings on a daily basis.

 “Positive feelings about a person or an object get us to approach it, while negative feelings get us to avoid it”.

If people approach these difficult situations with a negative perspective in mind, they are most likely to fall prey to more challenging situations. Despite the fact that some challenges may be a lot to handle, people are not encouraged to give up. Seligman states that each individual has a chance to make good of their situation.  This, however, depends on whether individuals are positive or negative about a particular situation. The analysis of one of the pivotal quotes of the book assists a reader to objectify the significance of maintaining a positive approach to life. If an individual projects positive energy towards their friends, family, and peers, they attract people who view life the same way. This, in turn, attracts positive outcomes that would have been impossible to attain without positive energy.

Happiness is not the only principle that gives life meaning. One of the reasons for the practice of psychology is the search for happiness and fulfillment. As human beings, one of the main goals of an individual is to live one’s life to the utmost satisfaction. By achieving this factor one stands to generate happiness which is the result of an individual’s accomplishments. Over the years, new research has begun to dispute this eliminating happiness as the only factor that brings fulfillment in one’s life. The author states that their needs to be a combination of many attributes in order to acquire real meaning in life. Some of the attributes that are essential in this case are tolerance, creativity positive feelings and being intellectual.

“By activating an expansive, tolerant and creative mindset, positive feelings maximize the social, intellectual and physical benefits that will accrue”.

Despite the hardships that life may present to human beings. It is essential to change one’s approach to any unwelcome situation. Seligman mentions that the choice to be happy is an individual choice.  No one can make that decision for us. One of the ways in which this factor can be achieved is through engaging and surrounding oneself with people who pose these virtues. Being exposed to such qualities ensures that we enforce them in our day to day lives. This notion has, however, received an enormous amount of criticisms from both professional and personal points of views.

Some critics have given examples of communities that do not place emphasis on achievement. Such communities rely on pleasing their neighbors, families, and friends which in turn is reciprocated. The need to be successful in other aspects of life is not a priority. The things that matter in this case are being satisfied with the simple things in life such as family and friends. Other achievements are thus secondary to in that they are not as essential. Although Seligman has mentioned happiness as one of the practices that are geared towards a meaningful life, he states that this quality needs to be complemented with other factors such as professional achievements.

Each culture has a different definition of happiness. This means that wheat may be viewed as happiness cannot be viewed as happiness in another cultural setting. A look at most of the western countries shows that they place priority in different accomplishments.  Such accomplishments can be academic, social status, political and athletics. According to Seligman, it is significant to accomplish some of these factors so that an individual can achieve true happiness. These factors can only be achieved by applying positive psychology when undertaking them. This argument, however, does not address cultures that do not place emphasis on happiness alone. Ignoring these cultures implies that they are not happy due to the fact that they do not value otherworldly views.


In conclusion, to flourish is to achieve in all aspects of life. Human beings take most of their time striving to accomplish true happiness. This is one of the most difficult concepts to apply in life due to life’s nature to challenge human beings on a daily basis. The search for true happiness has been taken on by different people who have made it a priority to investigate these phenomena. Seligman is one of the people who have taken initiative in providing information on how to achieve real happiness. Known as the guru of positive thinking, Seligman’s latest work eliminates placing emphasis on happiness alone.

He introduces new ideas by applying alternative concepts to the equation. One of the concepts is the application of positive energy to an individual’s daily activities. This theory has been analyzed by several parties who have either proposed or opposed the notion. The issue of whether Seligman’s book is applicable to different cultures is yet to be determined. Although some of these concepts are impractical in those different cultures have different takes on their position on happiness. It is ideal to note that positive energy is indeed a determining factor in moving forward in life.


Works cited

Seligman, Martin E. P. Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being. New York: Free Press, 2011. Print.



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