Here’s my piece in the December issue of Self. One thing that got cut: A reference to the VIA (Values in Action) Questionnaire, associated with the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center. You can register and take the quiz here — I found it really interesting, and discovered that among the 24 delightful qualities the questionnaire measures, the one I had least of was “forgiveness and mercy.” Which is a big part of emotional generosity. But I know I’m a judgmental fuck, so this is not news.
I do think the field of positive psychology is getting a momentary bad rap, thanks to Barbara Ehrenreich and folks who confuse happy-happy-joy-joy bullshit passive-aggressive blame-the-victim New Ageism with research on positive emotions. I recently had someone tell me I got migraines because I’d trained the neural pathways in my head to MAKE ME have migraines. So believe me, I loathe that kind of clueless perky “I read The Secret and I’m manifesting right now!” thinking…but I think it’s reductive to tar an entire field of study with the dipshit brush.