In this fascinating talk Martin Seligman talks about the discipline he, more than any other, helped bring into the mainstream. There are lots of important theoretical, methodological and political criticisms to be made of positive psychology – check out Barbara Ehrenreich’s superb Smile or Die, written while she was undergoing treatment for cancer, for a particularly powerful collection of them.
Nonetheless it represents something powerful and exciting. Not just a science of happiness – which has become an influential idea within the UK political elite thanks to Richard Layard in the House of Lords – but rather a science of human flourishing.
This is without doubt a multidisciplinary conversation. A fascinating literature is emerging within Anthropology and, in the UK, the BSA Happiness Study Group has been active for a year now.