Positive Psychology: We Are All Happy Robots

Fig 1.1 What it’s like to take a class on Positive Psychology

I’m studying for a degree in clinical psychology. I once took a course called “The Psychology of Personal Development,” thinking I’d learn about the complicated, painful, difficult and confusing development of one’s identity, personality, and sense of morality coupled with an even more paralyzing sense: an increasing awareness of one’s mortality, of the fact of death. I’m interested in psychology because the only complicated thing I can wrap my head around is the problem of being alive. So I thought, great, this sounds promising.

Instead, what I got was a class on happiness, 4 (!) kinds of hope, and a bunch of other flowery things.

The lie of Positive Psychology: that anything not labelled ‘positive’ must be a negative, thus it must be avoided.

As if happiness is going to help you through whatever unfortunate events lurk behind the mystery of your future.

As if melancholy isn’t the most beautiful fruit of music.

As if being able to experience sadness is a way too human faculty for our way too mechanistic view of ourselves.

Your happiness isn’t all about you. Sure, it’s possible to feel happy all on your own, but positing that discontent is solved with happiness? That’s called living in a hall of mirrors. Mirrors forever reflecting your image back to your eyes – known in some circles as “narcissism.”

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