Accen-tchu-ate the positive
Pursuing the Good Life: 100 Reflections on Positive Psychology by Christopher Peterson (Oxford University Press, $19.99)
Dr. Christopher Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, died before this, his final book, was published. Peterson was one of the first to begin work in the field of positive psychology, the study of the way our psychological selves adapt, create, and find happiness. In other words, instead of studying the ways that human minds malfunction and human behavior is problematic, positive psychologists direct their attention to what’s normal and what’s exceptionally healthy. Traits like trust, optimism, creativity, resilience, and the like are at the heart of their work in an attempt to bring both a balanced and full understanding of human behavior.
Peterson was a long-time blogger for Psychology Today, and this book is a collection of his posts, ordered by topic. In short, none of this information is new; it is, however, extremely helpful for the nonspecialist, particularly gathered in one place and organized in context.
Pursuing the Good Life offers a clear understanding of what positive psychology is—and what it’s not, which is a Pollyanna-ish, “it’s all for the best” perspective—as well as some concrete suggestions for getting more out of our lives and putting the healthiest and strongest traits we have to work in the day-to-day. The bottom line is also the late Peterson’s personal motto: “Other people matter.”