Tuesday, September 17, 2013
PSYC366 – Positive Psych
Chase after money and security
And your heart will never unclench
Care about other people’s approval
And you will be their prisoner
Do your work.
Then step back
The only path to serenity.
- Lao Tzu
Prof question : How does someone determine what the right thing is?
- Students answers: subjectivity is contextualized in a larger social framework
- “there is no absolute right/wrong, what is right depends on cultural context,
personality, the means of the moment etc. what you think is wrong is resistant to change
“ – constantly be self critical - be continually open to your own criticism
- the bg discussion has taken the concept of happiness and said it will respect
subjectivity, it has a lot to do with subjectivity.
- SWB - Subjective well being - has defined and measured happiness as the presence of
positive emotions, absence of negative emotions, and overall level of satisfaction of life.
o People rate different things, pos/neg affect
o Five item scale used many times – internal reliable
o Therefore, happiness depends on this overall feeling
o Summarizes what we know about the correlates of happiness, what relates to
o There’s no time frame – it depends on the questionnaire
o Problems with this: all of the subjective biases that comes to play: his
measurement can be contaminated by state or retrospective biases- motivated
to see ur life in a pos way bcs optimistic or have high self esteem etc. and can be
biased in a neg way: be depressed, be a victim,be ashamed. So there is the whole
subjective bias problem with this measurement.
o To get away from these things, can measure more often. By taking measures at
diff pnts and measuring diff things, can see how this measure behaves, whether
it predicts you expected it to.
o This measure does hold up pretty well, it correlated with things its supposed to.
The subjective biases are there for sure. But they don’t invalidate the measure. It
does predict stuff; it has some predictability.
- Have you ever watched someone slowly go off the rails?
o Usually you can see the wrong before they can. Especially in relationships – that
is classic. But they cant see it themselves.
o Professors story: john and mary: known since he was 6 yrs old. They both come
from fairly similar homes: john a bit below mary in terms socio economic status.
Both are intelligent people. Have talents. Their biggest difference was the
emotional health in their family. Mary was from a fairly warm family with lots of
criticism. John’s family is a bit of a disaster: substance abuse, early death of one
parent etc. broadly, their family is very similar. If you went back and measured
their subjective well being during their childhood, john would be happier than
1 mary for his entire childhood bcs john had a fairly easy going attitude to life.
Experienced virtually no anxiety. Very happy, lots of positive emotion. Not a lot
of neg affect. Home life wasn’t so good, home life kind of sucks. His overall cog
evaluation was probably very high. Mary identified with her gifts. She was
emotionally attached to her gifts. She had pressure put on her, she had
standards she was to meet. She had identification with that. Emotional
identification with talents results in anxiety. Her pos emotion was a little
subdued, her neg affect/emotion a little alleviated bcs of anxiety. Overall
subjective well being wld prob be below johns for probably 15 yrs. By the end of
high school, john is still doing okay, hes not flourishing, hes not creating any
opportunities for himself, doing the same thing: partying etc. mary is starting to
create some opportunities for herself. So theres a little of a transition pnt, late
adolescence where john is kind of getting his act together, for a few years, he
starts to lose a little bit of that spark, that confidence, bcs in reality, can see his
life is going nowhere, didn’t graduate high school, for three years didn’t get last
credit. Mary starts to feel more confidet about herself, starts to discover her tru
passions. By the time they are in mid twenties, anyone wld see that john is
hitting bottom in subjective well being. Took drugs a lot. All the spark, zest and
fun is washed out which is very clear. Mary is doing great, still deals with some
anxiety but blossoming.
o Therefore, at any pnt in time, can measure subjective well-being but if going to
say what is the right thing to do, maybe marys approach is perfect, bcs
something that makes you happy for few yrs and then crashes and ruins the rest
of ur life is not the right thing to do.
o What you do in your younger years has a much lower value than what you do in
o The basic problems is also its strength – the subjectivity aspect of it: what are
Its easy. Huge strength. Easily operationalizable bcs of subjectivity.
Its also a big strength bcs we live in a post modern era where we have at
least at philosophical level, we have moved away from a dogmatic
culturally way of thinking
From 19 to end of 20 century, theres a shift in cultural understanding,
truth is subjective. In that way of thinking, which has a lot of value,
subjective well being is very powerful. It respects ppls subjectivity. How
happy are you? How can a psych say they are unhappy.
But also a huge weakness bcs then the value the truth, of ones own
subjective evaluation of ones own happiness is bound/limited by
peoples wisdom and depth of self awareness, ppls authenticity.
Ex can take john who is 15 bt his happiness is not takeing into
consideration how he will be when he is 25. Maybe it doesn’t
matter then but it will matter then. So his subjective happiness is
kind of flawed, its missing something.
Therefore that is a weakness of this, bcs our subjectivity is biased and
they are limited. There are all kinds of biases built into them
o In contrast to this type of subjectivity, is eudynomonic well being is something
more authentic, more objective, (EWB) – (PWB)
There is something deeper down there. There is wisdom that can
potentially guide us. If you wanted to construct a theory, a personal one.
2 Youd want to push yourself to a eudynamic dimension. What would you
use as guidance?
What wil guide them?
o Time 1 (regret later?) ex john, he should have asked
himself. Feel good now but how will it make me feel
o Goals (not taken as givens, also questioning your goals
and trying to get to idea of first order goals (more deeply
congruent with your values). As you question your goals,
you are also stretching out the first thing: time
perspective. How goals help reveal values.
o Id, ego , superego – superego is what its all about values.
Ignore your id. The cultural frameworks themselves are
not always right. The potential cost of overemphasis
superego is that tradition is not always good. If it were,
we would be very sexist and racist. So it needs to be
challenged sometimes. And sometimes it does not
respect ones individuality which has some value.
o If you are a spiritual person, use your book/ religion ,
ethics, philosophy as a guide.”
o Caring for others
SWB has more power than EWB – the subjective value of something
depends on how far away it is in time. The future. That means we will be
attracted by the immediate gratification. Not Instant gratification doesn’t
have the same type of motivation.
- Eudynamic well being is confusing
- Operationalizing it is tough so the filed has focused on subjective well being (SWB), a lot
of ppl resonate with the idea of EWB but operationalisizing it is very difficult.
- Consquences, depth, you’ve got wisdom – presumably religion philosophy etc they
represent something that has some value. These stem from people who struggle deeply
with people trying to understand. So there is probably some value here: religion,
philosophy, ethics. What if you are a global thinker? And can plug into the collective
wisdom of these things? Like take a whole bunch of religions and see what they have to
say. They have a lot of diff but what if they have commonality? Many diff and yet some
commonalities, then you have uncovered something that has lots of value.
- If you can get something common that religions, phsilosophies agree with and it
includes common patterns of human experience, it includes patterns of life. Like say 15
yr old john is not good bcs the collective wisdom of human history says ur gonna crash
- Take a few samples from diff philosophers and perspective and see what they have to
say to see what this eurodynamic perspective actually means
o Ex. Aristotle: interested in ethics and virtue, he says: true happiness (whatever
that is) is found in the expression of virtue, he defined virtue. So wonderfully
useless as: doing what is worth doing. But what is worth doing? Peoole are living
the good life when the activitiy of their soul is in accordance with virtue.
Virtue, value, quality, truth – these words have all to do with each other
with western philosophy bcs phil revolved around these words. In these
words, is the essence of how we shld live… somewhere in these words. If
we unpacked these words, we wld know how to live
3 Aristotles other big idea: Golden Mean – which is basically good. What
does the golden mean mean? Mean = average. The golden mean what it
sounds like on the surface is this kind of ‘the middle way’, the
intermediate zone. And Aristotle says, “both fear and confidence,
appetitite and anger, and pity and pleasure and pain maybe felt both too
much and too little and in both cases not well.”
So the middle, the right way is probably not static, it doesn’t stay in that
one person all the time. It changes.
Arittotle” to feel them (above) at the right time, with reference to right
object toards the right ppl with right motive and in the right way is both
intermediate and best and this is characteristic of virtue”
Linguitsitc problem: what does right mean?
The right thing to do depends, what is right in one circumstance.
Ex. Right to laugh at someones joke but maybe not when its
offensive, not when its at a funeral etc.
As you say something is good, you need to think about
exceptions therefore ‘right, virtue etc’ has to be contextually
sensitive. Sensitiveity to the context is REALLY important. This is
referred to as ‘attunement’- bcs how can u know all these rights,
unless first of all, as a starting pnt u are aware/plugged in… bcs if
ur not aware, then how can u possibly understand what is right,
what are the needs of the moment?
In 1950’s and onwards for 30 years, you have Eric Fromm. He is fairly
central to existential psychologists. He says:” those needs (desires) that
are only subjectively felt and whose satisfaction leads to momentary
pleasure and those needs that are rooted in human nature and whose
realization is conducive to human growth.”
So time is built into this. Things that are going to stick, those that
have lasting value, is gooder , than these momentary goods.
He also says about human nature, whatever that is, therefore
what is good should be compatible with human nature.
Therefore, he is talking about things that are universal, not
culturally constructed. About everywhere and anytime.
This perspective is fairly representative of eudynamic
perspective and psychologists. Growth as an inherent good, as
opposed to lack of or stagnation.
Attunment, growth and universality – big themes in eudynamic
- Waterman = eudynamic activities occurs when ones life activities are congruent with
ones deep values. Depth pops up from a eudynamic perspective. There is congruency
with eud. Values and ppl are fully engaged. So theres 2 components to eud. 1. Self
congruence. Being compatible with your deep values. It’s a lack of hypocricy. And 2.
Engagement. When you are fully engaged in those activities.
o How you put all those things together. A person who is very aware. You know
what is going on. Attunment. Which is diff from dogmatic perspective. You are
also self aware bcs u know ur deep values and know whether your behaviour is
congruent with. Aware of who they are, who are theyre talking to, what are the
needs of the moment, aware of their own deep values, their goals and what they
want at the time, done reflexibity and questioning. Not engage in self deception.
4 Have to be pen so be aware of what they have just dne and whether it is
completely in line with own values.
o Very passionate, very awake, fully engaged, pour themselves in what they are
doing. So u have this idea of fully engaged awareness.
- Person who is eud well generally feels good about himself. But bcs theres so many ways
of making someone feel good : good and not destructive. Then happiness is not nec a
good indicator of eud well being.
- What might be an indicator/measure of eud well being? Ex john? He can ask himself
how fully engaged he feels in his life? (engagement) – whether what he is doing if he
knows if they are congruent with his deep values, if he knows what they are.
- So feeling of authenticity vs not being true to yourself. The feeling of engagement has
been operationalized with vitality. Eud is someone alive and very vibrant. They have a
lot of energy to themselves.
- It didn’t take us that long to understand wellness. It should be fairly intuitively that our
culture doesn’t hold this way of being up as a standard we should aspire to. But think
about the msgs we recived from media, pressure, role models, from the way ppl
perceive us, eudynomia is not really what our culture is selling!
- Does money buy happiness? Buy Basic needs. Travelling/life experiences. What the
research says is that first of all, for the most part (there are exceptions to everything