"Every human longs for peace." (Hiawatha)
The United States Constitution famously speaks of the pursuit of happiness. And, for good reason. Happiness is what most of us seek in our everyday behavior, as Aristotle once suggested. In the last decade, psychological science has shifted considerable resources to better understanding happiness. Many popular writings have appeared on the topic, including several outstanding articles and blogs sponsored by Psychology Today. Much good has come from these efforts. I personally have benefited from them.
Yet, the pursuit of happiness seems to be problematic in some ways. Although many people seek happiness above all else, personal happiness often is elusive, as suggested by the vast numbers of people diagnosed with emotional disorders and increasing numbers of prescriptions given for anti-depressant medications. The pursuit of personal happiness also has often not brought with it the experience of quality interpersonal relationships in many people's lives. In fact, the amazing advances in personal technology in recent years seem to have left us with more cyber "friends," but fewer real ones. Family relationships continue to be a struggle for many. In addition, work often is perceived to be a "drag" for a lot of people, filled with the sense of spending too many meaningless hours in order to earn enough money to just "get by" and pay the bills. Broader than this, prejudice and violence continue to be major global problems. Many people long to give themselves to something more.
What if we were less concerned with seeking personal happiness and more concerned with seeking peace?
This is the question that I hope to explore in various ways in this new Psychology Today blog. "Peace" is a much broader concept than "happiness," and includes personal and relational balance, wholeness, and welfare. As the opening quotation from Hiawatha suggests, peace may be what most of us really desire most. I believe that we will find that psychological science and theory have a lot to offer in pointing us in the right direction.
If any of this sounds intriguing, I hope you'll consider "subscribing" to receive future posts from this blog. Please consider leaving a comment on what you'd like to see addressed in a blog devoted to peace, or send me an e-mail.
Andy Tix teaches at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota. Please also consider following Andy's blog on mystery and awe.