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Positive Psychology in Practice: Promoting Human Flourishing in Work, Health, Education, and Everyday Life, 2nd Edition by Stephen Joseph

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Chapter 6The Science of Values in the Culture of Consumption

TIM KASSER

One of positive psychology's key achievements has been its articulation of what it means to have “a good life.” Many thinkers have considered this issue over the course of recorded human thought, but positive psychology, in my mind, has made two special contributions. First, rather than assuming that a good life is defined by the absence of psychopathology, many of the leaders of positive psychology have argued that well-being is a construct to be studied in its own right. Second, positive psychologists insist that conclusions about the meaning of a good life be based on sound empirical research, rather than on anecdotal observation or philosophical speculation. Excellent early examples of the conjoining of these two threads can be seen in the January 2000 issue of the American Psychologist; these initial discussions have been followed by important contributions appearing in the Journal of Positive Psychology and other journals, as well as dozens of books that are being published with increasing rapidity. As can be gleaned from a perusal of this literature, most positive psychologists seem to agree that a good life is represented via a sense of life satisfaction, pleasant affective experience, and personal meaning, and that a good life is more likely to occur when people have good relationships, pursue meaningful work, and engage in activities that provide a sense of deep involvement, vitality, choice, and ...

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