Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillmentby Martin E.P. Seligman
Positive Emotion: A Key to Fulfillment
Martin E.P. Seligman conducted a study of 180 nuns which demonstrated the importance of positive emotion for a fulfilling life. It was found that 90 percent of the most cheerful quarter were alive at age eighty-five, compared to only 34 percent of the least cheerful quarter. Similarly, 54 percent of the most cheerful quarter were alive at age ninety-four, as opposed to 11 percent of the least cheerful quarter. The research showed that none of the other factors such as unhappiness expressed, looking forward to the future, or how devout they were, made a difference, only the amount of positive feeling expressed in the sketch.
Psychology has not paid enough attention to the positive side of life, leaving many questions unanswered. Daniel Kahneman's research on hedonics has shown that the sum total of our momentary feelings is not an accurate measure of how good or bad we judge an episode to be. He has also demonstrated that endings have a great impact on our memory of the entire experience. Ludwig Wittgenstein's last words showed that positive emotion is more than just "happiology" or hedonics.
Finding purpose and meaning in life is essential for well-being. Positive Psychology offers a secular approach to noble purpose and transcendent meaning. It was found that meaning in life is found in attachment to something larger. The larger the entity to which one can attach themselves, the more meaning in their life.