Q. When you first got interested in positive psychology a decade ago, you viewed happiness as people’s main goal in life. Now, with your new book, “Flourish,’’ you seem to have a more complex view.
A. I’m trying to broaden the scope of positive psychology well beyond the smiley face. Happiness is just one-fifth of what human beings choose to do.
Q. What are the other things that motivate us beyond happiness?
A. I think there are five classes of endeavors that human beings choose to do when they freely choose, one of which is about happiness, and I call that positive emotion. The acronym for the five is PERMA: P is we choose things that make us happy. E is we choose things that engage us, where being engaged is being totally absorbed in what you’re doing. [R is relationships.] I think we pursue positive relationships whether or not they bring us engagement or happiness. Fourth, I think we pursue meaning and purpose whether or not they bring us any of the other three. And finally, people choose achievement, accomplishment and mastery even if it brings no happiness, no engagement, no relationships and no meaning.
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