We asked this question yesterday at the first meeting of the Happiness Club NY!

QUESTION: If you had been Marty Seligman, Mike Csikszentmihalyi, and Ray Fowler when they met in 1999 to discuss a new subfield in psychology that would study what is right with people, what topics would you have wanted to put on the table? What topics would you want to study?!

Here are the answers from yesterday:

EXPERIENCES we can study – such as thoughts, emotions…

  • Internal vs. external happiness
  • Consistency in Happiness over time
  • Studying hobbies, flow experiences
  • Exercise and happiness
  • Weightloss and happiness
  • How to move on from a bad thought
  • Conscious happiness, awareness
  • Optimism and adjusting thoughts and controlling thoughts
  • Pleasure
  • Meaning
  • How to increase happiness
  • Happiness in marriage, in relationships, in long-lasting friendships (also “group”)


  • Drive, motivation
  • Responsibility, reliance
  • Personal will
  • To what degree is happiness determined at birth? – Chemical and neurobiological components of happiness
  • Generational: if your parents are happy, are you?
  • Focus
  • Studying traits of good leaders
  • Studying traits of successful people
  • Studying traits of philanthropists
  • Studying optimists (also “experience”)
  • Difference between individual and community happiness (also “group”)

GROUP AND COMMUNITY issues we can study

  • Happiness at work, fun at work (LOTS of interest in this topic)
  • Is happiness cultural?
  • Does happiness have socioeconomic factors?
  • Is there a ripple effect to happiness – if you’re happy, then are others?
  • Happiness and children

What’s interesting is that the list we came up with has a lot of questions that the original founders of positive psychology came up with too. And it’s not really a coincidence that even though we were sitting in a Columbia Business School classroom, we came up with the fewest categories for “group.” Similarly, in positive psychology, group and organization issues have been the least studied.

You might be wondering why we separated our questions into those categories. Well, first we brainstormed a lot of topics we would want to study, and then we used the three “pillars” of positive psychology to group all our brainstormed topics.

See you at the next Happiness Club NY meeting on July 11, Wed eve – for a discussion about “Is there any magic techniqut to positive thinking? And what if I don’t want to think positive?”

Link: What is Positive Psychology?

Comments are closed