Monthly Article Archives: January 2004

Positive Psychology: A Belief in Human StrengthsRobert Brooks, Ph.D.

Given my keen interest in the concept of resilience and my longstanding advocacy for an approach to parenting, education, and therapy practices that is based upon identifying and nurturing each person’s strengths or “islands of competence,” I have been drawn to a relatively new and promising area of study in psychology. It is subsumed under the label of “positive psychology” and represents a perspective of human behavior that places the spotlight on strengths and virtues rather than on weaknesses and pathology. A foremost spokesperson for positive psychology is Dr. Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism, The Optimistic Child, and Authentic Happiness. In the past month, I purchased two books about positive psychology, A Psychology of Human Strengths edited by Drs. Lisa Aspinwall and Ursula Staudinger and Handbook of Positive Psychology edited by Drs. C.R. Snyder and Shane Lopez. As I reviewed the chapter headings and skimmed a number of chapters, I was impressed with the breadth and scope of this new field of study. For example, Snyder and Lopez’s book, which contains 55 chapters, addresses such topics as subjective well-being, resilience, the concept of “flow,” emotional intelligence, creativity, optimism, hope theory, wisdom, authenticity, humility, compassion, love, empathy and altruism, forgiveness,

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