I am often asked what the 'secret' to happiness is. Despite all of my education in the field of positive psychology I really struggle to answer that question. Not only do I struggle to answer it...I hesitate to answer it for a few reasons:
- It strengthens the apparent tie between positive psychology and books like "The Secret" (Sorry Oprah I will never forgive you for releasing this idea into the universe...no matter how many cars you give away). While the idea of positive thinking is a good one, the concept is presented in a way that lays blame on the individual if these good things don't happen. Even worse it places the blame on the individual if BAD things happen. 'The Secret" is pseudo science at it's worst, and any association with Positive Psychology gives it undo credit, and diminishes the rigorous research being done in the field of positive psychology.
- It implies that there is some 'magical' way to be happy. If you just do X you will be happy for the rest of your life. It is akin to the 'quick fix' weight loss solutions that promise you will look like a supermodel all without doing a single sit-up or cutting cheesecake out of your diet. Unfortunately this isn't The Matrix and all your problems cannot be solved by taking the blue pill.
Don't get me wrong, I do believe that there are things that we can do in our lives that will make us happier. There have been studies done to prove that there are interventions that do work. I wouldn't really call any of these a 'secret' though, they require some effort, and are by no means a 'quick fix'. Some of the pathways to well-being are difficult to master, and you have to be willing to accept some failure along the way.