Os criadores desta corrente são Martin Seligman autor do conceito "desamparo aprendido" em 1967, de que já aqui falei, e Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi criador de conceito de Flow em 1990, conceito que uso bastante para explicar a experiência da interatividade. A ideia da Psicologia Positiva passa por procurar compreender como funcionam os processos mentais óptimos, ou seja procurar perceber o que contribui para a pessoa se sentir feliz. Porque segundo Seligman e Csikszentmihalyi (2000),
"A science of positive subjective experience, positive individual traits, and positive institutions promises to improve quality of life and prevent the pathologies that arise when life is barren and meaningless. The exclusive focus on pathology that has dominated so much of our discipline results in a model of the human being lacking the positive features that make life worth living.Devo dizer ainda que trago este artigo agora porque vem ainda no seguimento do meu texto anterior sobre as abordagens do FMI para Portugal (veja-se a primeira evidência dos Mitos Materiais no fundo deste artigo). Não sendo também a primeira vez que exponho estas ideias, já antes o tinha feito no caso da análise do livro da Arte da Empatia de Frans De Waal que explica como funciona o nosso sistema biológico. Aliás De Waal pretendia em parte com este livro dar uma resposta aos problemas dos comportamentos que conduziram à crise económica de 2007.
Dito tudo isto, o que trago são ideias emanadas de um movimento chamado Action for Happiness liderado por Richard Layard, que não é, nem psicólogo como Selligman e Csikszentmihalyi, nem Biólogo como Frans De Waal, mas é antes Economista da London School of Economic! Richard Layard, juntamente com Paul Krugman, foram recentemente responsáveis pelo A Manifesto for Economic Sense (2012). Actions for Happiness é no entanto um movimento enquadrado na corrente da Psicologia Positiva, procurando com base em estudos empíricos, lançar pistas (veja-se aqui as 10 Ideias Chave para Viver Mais Feliz) que ajudem as pessoas a optimizarem a suas vidas, a tornarem-se mais felizes.
10 Ideias Chave para Viver Mais Feliz (Action for Happiness)
As razões que fazem mover este movimento, são várias, mas essencialmente estão ligadas a vários estudos que mostram,
"The research shows that we need a change of priorities, both at the societal level and as individuals. Happiness and fulfilment come less from material wealth and more from relationships; less from focussing on ourselves and more from helping others; less from external factors outside our control and more from the way in which we choose to react to what happens to us."Se tiverem tempo, ouçam esta palestra de Richard Layard Sobre a Felicidade. Se não puderem, passem para lista abaixo de evidências que organizei em quatro grandes categorias a partir dos vários estudos realizados por este movimento e que demonstram porque as 10 Ideias Chave desenhadas por Layard são relevantes e fazem sentido.
On Happiness, Richard Layard, Conway Hall on Sunday 23 January 2011
Evidências Empíricas sobre a Felicidade (fonte)
1 - Mitos materiais
"Economic stability has a large effect on the happiness of society, while long-term economic growth has little. Unemployment reduces happiness by as much as bereavement."
"Most people think that if they become successful, then they'll be happy. But recent discoveries in psychology and neuroscience show that this formula is backward: happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we're positive, our brains are more motivated, engaged, creative, energetic, resilient, and productive."
"Being paid can detract from the pleasure of giving. For example, if people interested in giving blood are divided into two groups, one of which is paid if they give blood and the other is not, more of those who are not paid decide to give blood."
2 - A Natureza
"Empathy is a part of our nature. If a friend suffers an electric shock, it hurts in exactly the same point of the brain as if you yourself suffer an electric shock."
"In an experiment, individuals with a positive outlook were less likely to get flu when exposed to the virus."
"Our happiness influences the people we know and the people they know. Research shows that the happiness of a close contact increases the chance of being happy by 15%. The happiness of a 2nd-degree contact (e.g. friend's spouse) increases it by 10% and the happiness of a 3rd-degree contact (e.g. friend of a friend of a friend) by 6%."
"Positive emotions - like joy, interest, pride and gratitude - don't just feel good in the moment - they also affect our long term well-being. Research shows that experiencing positive emotions in a 3-to-1 ratio to negative ones leads to a tipping point beyond which we naturally become more resilient to adversity and better able to achieve things. The evidence linking an upbeat outlook to increased longevity is actually stronger than the evidence linking obesity to reduced longevity."
3 - Evolução recente
"The proportion of U.S.students who think that it is essential or very important to develop a meaningful philosophy of life has fallen from 65% in the 1960s to 45% today."
"Surveys of mental health in many countries show no improvement and in some cases worsening. In Britain the proportion of adolescents with emotional or behavioural problems is twice as high as in the 1970s."
4 - O que fazer
"The most important external factors affecting individual happiness are human relationships. In every society, family or other close relationships are the most important, followed by relationships at work and the community."
"Trust is a major determinant of happiness in a society. Levels of trust vary widely between countries. The percentage of people who say "Most people can be trusted" is only 30 per cent of people in the U.K. and U.S., compared to 60 per cent some 40 years ago. But in Scandinavia the level is still over 60 per cent, and these are the happiest countries too."
"Doing good is one of the best ways to feel good. People who care more about others are happier than those who care less about others. When people do good, their brain becomes active in the same reward centre as where they experience other rewards."