Feb 132010

Source: “Authentic Happiness,” Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D., Chapter 5

Satisfaction with Life Scale

1 = Strongly disagree – 7 = Strongly agree

  • · In most ways, my life is close to my ideal.
  • · The conditions of my life are excellent.
  • · I am completely satisfied my life.
  • · So far, I have gotten the important things I want in life.
  • · If I could live my life over, I would change nothing.

30-35 Extremely satisfied, much above average
25-29 Very satisfied, above average
20-24 Somewhat satisfied, average for American adults
15-19 Slightly dissatisfied, a bit below average
10-14 Dissatisfied, clearly below average
5-9 Very dissatisfied, much below average

Emotions about the past

May include: contentment, serenity, pride, satisfaction—bitterness, anger

Determined by thoughts and assigned meaning

Freudian view: The content of thought is caused by emotion

Aaron Beck – The leading theorist of cognitive therapy: emotion is generated by cognition

The thinking/feeling connection

There is evidence for both thought driving feeling and for feeling driving thought

Dwelling in the past – does the past determine the future? (Generally no)

The more you believe that the past determines the future, the more passive you’ll be.

Charles Darwin believed that successful individuals contributed to species evolution through reproductive success.

Karl Marx believed that economic forces contributed to future developments.

Sigmund Freud believed that childhood experiences created later psychological characteristics

Effects of negative childhood events on adults

Effects of childhood on adulthood are probably overrated. The evidence is minor. Many studies did not control for genetic influences. This is the nature vs. nurture issue.

Cognitive therapy: Aaron (Tim) Beck invented cognitive therapy, a popular talk therapy for depression. It attempts to redirect negative talk about the past into positive thought about the present and future.

Venting anger: Venting has recently been considered authentic, honest, and healthy. It turns out that venting anger is not productive. Gratitude and savoring are, in fact, more healthful.