Academic journal article Communication Research Trends

Power, Mick. Understanding Happiness: A Critical Review of Positive Psychology

Academic journal article Communication Research Trends

Power, Mick. Understanding Happiness: A Critical Review of Positive Psychology

Article excerpt

Power, Mick. Understanding Happiness: A Critical Review of Positive Psychology. London and New York: Routledge, 2016. Pp. 196. ISBN 978 1-138-92923-4 (cloth) $136.00; 978-1-138-92924-1 (paper) $52.95; 978-1-315-68133-7 (eBook) $37.07.

When we get what we wanted, why doesn't it always make us happy? Why are we so imperfect in predicting what will bring us happiness in the future? Do we have any control over our own happiness? Can happiness be sustained over time? Happiness is a topic we are all interested in, across our lifespan.

Cross-disciplinary scholarship about happiness has blossomed since the late 1990's, taking off from the work of psychologists Martin Seligman (Authentic Happiness, Flourish) and Daniel Gilbert (Stumbling on Happiness), as well as Buddhist scholars Matthieu Ricard (Happiness) and Rick Hanson (Hardwiring Happiness). Psychologists Shawn Achor (The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness) and Sonja Lyubomirsky (The How of Happiness, The Myths of Happiness) have taken the research to the streets, offering scholarly insights into what will (or will not) bring us happiness. Harvard Business School Professor Michael Norton (Happy Money) has done cross-national studies on the effects of pro-social spending, illuminating how money (and beliefs about money) can affect happiness. The scholarship about happiness is currently rich in well-designed studies, utilizing a variety of methodologies, and applying myriad interventions.

As a professor who has taught university courses in The Science of Happiness for years to undergraduates as well as to adults in OSHER Life Long Learning classes, I was eager to read a review of happiness research. In fact, however, Mick Power, a professor of Clinical Psychology at the National University of Singapore, sets out to attack happiness and positive psychology research. The first sentence of his Preface states, "Let me start with a confession, I normally find books written about happiness and how to be happy extremely irritating. …

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