Mental Health & Happiness

Positive Psychology

Martin Seligman is one of the pioneers of the positive psychology movement. It denotes a new research focus of psychology that leaves the previous approach. Instead of concentrating on weaknesses, deficits and defects, positive psychology pays attention to aspects that strengthen people and make them more satisfied. That means the focus is redirected involving a change of perspective. What makes life more worth living? What makes people happy? By which means can we raise our life satisfaction? Positive emotions, like happiness and jo,y as well as adopting positive thinking are essential ingredients. In positive psychology strength and ability are taken into consideration thereby helping people to reach a higher life satisfaction and more happiness. A positive attitude towards life as well as positive thinking makes people not only happier but also affects against mental illnesses, like depression and burnout, preventively.
The psychologist Carmelo Vázquez is professor at Complutense University of Madrid. His research deals mainly with mental health. His focus is on the correlation between mental health, positive psychology and happiness. In a study with 3000 participants Vázquez examines the effects of mental and physical illnesses on life satisfaction. The results suggest that both problems negatively influence the life satisfaction. People exclusively suffering from mental problems additionally exhibit a much lower life satisfaction than people with solely physical problems. Meanwhile, it is well known that mental problems represent tremendous personal and economic strains. So far depression and burnout are treated via therapy and/or medication. The clinical psychology deals with the description, recognition, explanation and treatment of mental illnesses and also with those that are accompanied by physical impairment (like e.g. a headache as reaction to stress). Correspondingly, the focus is expressly on those clinical pictures (like depression, panic- or obsessive-compulsive disorder). Vázquez, however, strongly indicates the importance of enlarging the awareness and striving for a change of perspective.

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  • Prof. Dr. Andrew Oswald Professor of Economics, University of Warwick
  • Prof. Dr. Ronnie Schöb Professor for International Public Economics, Free University Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. Ruut Veenhoven Emeritus Professor Social Conditions of Human Happiness, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Prof. Dr. Carmelo Vazquez President of the International Positive Psychology association
  • Prof. Dr. Marc Hassenzahl Folkwang University Essen
  • Dr. Martijn Burger Academic Director Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organisation
  • Dr. Adam Okulicz Kozaryn Researcher Rutgers University
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