Barbara Fredrickson

I began studying human emotions more than twenty years ago. At that time, almost every scientist working in this area was studying one of the negative emotions, like fear, anger, anxiety, or depression. I wondered why no scientists cared to explain why we humans sometimes feel upbeat and pleasant. I liked the idea of charting new terrain. It’s been a fun intellectual puzzle. There’s so much to discover!

You know that saying ‘A little knowledge is a dangerous thing’? That’s so true of positive psychology. Our latest research tells us that the pursuit of happiness is a delicate art. Certain approaches to seeking happiness are now known to backfire, whereas others are effective.

Positivity psychology is part and parcel of psychology. Being human includes both ups and downs, opportunities and challenges. Positive psychology devotes somewhat more attention to the ups and the opportunities, whereas traditional psychology – at least historically – has paid more attention to the downs.

Positive thinking is just one small part of positive psychology. Plus, as an approach to well-being, positive thinking only helps you to the extent that it yields one or more positive emotions. The problem with positive thinking is that it sometimes just stays up “in the head” and fails to drip down to become a fully embodied experience.

Love is a momentary upwelling of three tightly interwoven events: First, a sharing of one or more positive emotions between you and another; second, a synchrony between your and the other person’s biochemistry and behaviors; and third, a reflected motive to invest in each other’s well-being that brings mutual care