My MAPP colleagues and I were discussing the number of books on happiness being published at the moment: Lyubomirsky's "The How of Happiness" is the latest. Great book, shame about the sunny yellow cover...
Is it possible, we wondered, to broadcast the important positive psychology research findings, i.e. the ones that might make a difference to the way people live their lives, without it being accused of being merely happiology, or moralistic? For example, research tells us (if our grandmothers haven't already) that earning large amounts of money doesn't make a significant difference to our happiness levels. It also shows that building strong relationships (with friends and family, between generations, in the community and at work) is one of the most important things we can do to improve our well-being. Yet the vast majority of us still act like money is the be all and end all.
It's a difficult call, we concluded, especially when the media the world over insists on calling it happiology, as this recent article from PressTV in Tehran illustrates.
Choosing the right Positive Psychology interventions
We also discussed whether Lyubomirsky's emphasis (Chapter 3) on the importance of choosing activities to fit your lifestyle was useful or not. If, as a coach, you leave it up to the client to choose their own interventions, the chances are they won't go for the ones which look too simple, such as keeping a gratitude diary, yet activities like this can have a profound effect.
Opting for more difficult ones (such as meditation) straight off might need a great deal more perseverance. It's worth discussing these potential difficulties with your client before deciding what approach to take. Experienced coach and trainer, Lucy Ryan, suggests advising clients to try the simple interventions first - they have nothing to lose, and a great deal to gain, after all.