Positive Psychology: What It Takes to be Happy

By Mary Jaksch

Instead of focusing on mental and emotional problems, Positive Psychology investigates wellness, happiness, and other emotions that help us enjoy life and reach our full potential.

Here is a fascinating talk by Ronald D. Siegel, Psy.D., Assistant Clinical Professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. In the following video he discusses what it takes to be happy.

(If you’re reading this by email click here to watch the video)

What do you think – is Prof. Siegel right? Please share in the comments

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{ 11 comments }

1 kathleen March 28, 2012 at 2:33 am

Great video – thanks for sharing!

2 Holly March 28, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Sorry to say, same stuff, different day. I did like his green eyes though.

3 Mark Culsi March 29, 2012 at 8:45 am

I feel great after watching this video, Mary Jaksch seems like a clever and humanist person.
I’d have liked if he had given us more detailed information about how modern society pushes us to believe happiness is a scare resource depending on external factors such as having money, owning such and such things. Is it a bad thing? Well at least it keeps the system running, but It surely doesn’t aim to help us live happier and deeper life.
Mark Culsi´s last blog post ..Upper Abdominal Pain

4 Danielle Mottale March 29, 2012 at 11:27 am

I agree with some of Dr. Siegel’s points. However, I would like to make a few in addition.
The reason that “happiness” is unattainable, is because it is not a sustainable state. Exactly because of the points Dr. Siegel mentioned. Since life is not static, and things are always relative, once one gets “used” to a certain thing, it no longer satisfies him. I believe it is important to understand that, and thus not expect to be or achieve a constant state of happiness. Objectivism, and realism would help. The other point, I believe to be crucial, is avoiding pain. Physical or mental. I believe it is impossible to be content, happy, or productive, while being physically unfit. That is a notion most people would reject , because it would require taking responsibility for achieving that goal, one which is NOT elusive, but very real. We overly depend on the medical profession, and or Pharmaceuticals.
I also think it is questionable whether attaching meaning to life makes us “happier”. what if life is meaningless? attaching meaning to things inevitably leads to disappointment. You may feel great about being altruistic in some way, but it is almost always short lived, and is rooted in the Judeo-Christian beliefs that are instilled in us. Because it is NOT based on true human nature,that said, feeling compassion and helping others will satisfy and enrich one’s life, if that is what they want to do, as opposed to something they are obligated to do.. Animals in their wild state, are not “happy”, but they are healthy, and live the way nature intended them to. That would be as close as you can get. We have removed ourselves so FAR from that state, that we would almost positively never achieve that level of being.
Positive Psychology, or thinking differently about events, may be useful in the short run, but it does not alter reality. and that is where it is flawed. It is palliative.
I agree that appreciating our lives, will improve the quality of it. Human relationships are also important. Family and human contact.

5 Rose Byrd March 29, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Wonderful of you to share this video with us. None of us can ever be taught or reminded too much about the fueling of happiness by positivity.
Rose Byrd´s last blog post ..Circle round the planet…circle for each soul…keep this circle whole

6 Serena March 31, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I really enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great author.I will always bookmark your blog and may come back from now on. I want to encourage continue your great writing, have a nice evening!
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7 maria@moneyprinciple April 1, 2012 at 2:49 pm

I watched the video with great interest and think that Prof. Siegel is right. Particularly about the gratitude and mindfulness. European school in the psychology of happiness also mention three kind of comparisons we need to avoid: a) between what we had and what we have; b) between what we have and what we want; and c) between what we have and what others have.

8 Meghana || dancingwithhappiness.com April 2, 2012 at 4:55 pm

It seems like even researchers believe that it comes down to being “present” or living in the “now” vs. the past and future. In the section on mindfulness, he distinguishes savoring from flow and doing things for others. I believe they are all about living with presence. When you really savor what you are doing, you are fully present. When you are in the flow, you are present. When you do things that are TRULY meaningful to you (v. because you believe you should do things for others), you are doing things for the sake of doing them and for no other reason, and you are present. I agree that “[m]any of the mechanisms that help us to survive . . . all of those skills often contribute to our unhappiness;” but I vehemently disagree that “there may not be any ingrained propensity toward happiness.” Just because we may not have evolved to be happy, does not mean that we don’t have an ingrained propensity toward happiness. Happiness may have been our basic nature, one that did not need to evolve. We may just have evolved away from it and way past the point of where it had to do anything with survival.
Meghana || dancingwithhappiness.com´s last blog post ..How to Respond To Adversity

9 Noch Noch | be me. be natural. April 3, 2012 at 2:43 am

great video – i agree that happiness is not attainable per se because it’s a fleeting concept
and life changes
and every moment is different
Noch Noch
Noch Noch | be me. be natural.´s last blog post ..apologies for my arrogance

10 Joe Mudd April 7, 2012 at 10:47 am

Thanks for the post and sharing the video Mary.

I think many people equate happiness with ecstasy. This only possible for short periods of time. The high always wears off, usually in a very short amount of time.

I equate happiness to contentment. Contentment isn’t such a moving target. We can be content with where we are in life for long periods. Maybe even most of our lives.

Yep, events beyond our control will knock us off balance at times. I guess the trick is to learn from them, figure out where they fit in the big picture of our lives, and adjust.
Joe Mudd´s last blog post ..What Do You Remember?

11 Mickey May 11, 2012 at 2:02 am

What a great blog. It reminds me of a book I just recently finished that blew me away. 25 Laws for Doing the Impossible. It’s a must read.

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