At this juncture, the social and behavioural sciences can play an enormously important role. They can articulate a vision of the good life that is empirically sound while being understandable and attractive. They can show what actions lead to well-being, to positive individuals, and to thriving communities. Psychology should be able to help document what kinds of families result in children who flourish, what work settings support the greatest satisfaction among workers, what policies result in the strongest civic engagement, and how people’s lives can be most worth living.
This is the vision for psychology which the founders of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, set out in 2000.They thought that this new 'Positive Psychology' was a far cry from run-of-the-mill psychology which had little knowledge of what 'makes life worth living' and was more interested in diagnosing and fixing damage and disease. Six years on, many more psychologists are rallying behind this banner. So too are those in other disciplines such as economics, population health, business, social services, education and other areas where human development, flourishing, or motivation matter. In this section we set out the background to the Positive Psychology movement and some of its key ideas.