Magazine article Work & Family Life

New Insights on What Makes Us Happy

Magazine article Work & Family Life

New Insights on What Makes Us Happy

Article excerpt

Why does the billionaire want more money when he can't think of anything to spend it on? Why do some people keep playing bridge joylessly, without a smile, even when they win? Dr. Martin Seligman, who conducted some of the early research on what makes people happy, has lately taken issue with the "positive psychology" movement he helped to start. He suggests that our concept of happiness is sorely limited.

Bridge players want to win simply for the sake of winning, Dr. Seligman concluded. They are willing to "win ugly" and even to cheat. "It kept hitting me that accomplishment is a human desire in itself."

The feeling of accomplishment contributes to an ancient Greek concept that translates to "well-being" or "flourishing," an idea Dr. Seligman borrowed for his new book Flourish. He came up with the acronym PERMA for what he sees as the five critical elements of wellbeing: (1) Positive emotion, (2) Engagement (the feeling of being lost in a task), (3) Relationships, (4) Meaning and (5) Accomplishment.

Well-being can't just exist in your own head. …

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