Wednesday, February 14, 2018


“Positive Psychology” (PP) was introduced in the early nineties by Martin Seligman and has been gaining steam. I like it. It is a refreshing departure from abnormal psych and emphasizes those positive behaviors – gratefulness, optimism, compassion, helping others, and even spirituality – that have a long and demonstrated track-record of improving lives. In fact, PP’s solutions/recommendations dovetail very closely to the teachings of the Bible.

At today’s discussion group, I affirmed PP’s principles while adding that they were incomplete without God:

·       These sound principles are validated through their positive outcomes. We do better when we live according to them. However, without God, the focus remains on ourselves and what we are getting out of practicing them. This focus might work temporarily as long as our lives are going well for the most part, but I fear that they will fall apart if we have to endure serious victimization or personal setbacks.

·       Instead, we have to be assured that these principles not only confer benefits, but they are RIGHT, and that they actually reflect the will of God for us and our sustaining relationship with Him.

However, several responded that they derived benefit from practicing PP without a belief in God. They even correctly sensed that there is a meaning and purpose in the practice of compassion.

I agree with their experiences of meaning. However, I wanted to make the point that their beliefs and worldview had to also support their intuitions of meaning. I therefore asked them:

·       Would you still believe that there is meaning and purpose in helping others if you believed that your intuitions of meaning are just the product of mindless meaningless evolution, and that they are merely bio-chemical reactions?

They admitted that they did believe in evolution and even that their intuitions of meaning were no more than meaningless bio-chemical reactions. However, they seemed to be okay with this. PP was still working for them.

I could understand this, living in a society where death and threat still remain at bay. But what happens when they are at our doorstep? How could I convey the fact that they needed Christ in order to complete their picture? I couldn’t.


  1. Positive Psych is a Process more than a Content. When I borrow from the processes of PP and graft on the truths of scripture is is powerful. I also use the processes of RBT and apply it with Romans 12:2, etc. The truth sets us free but PP can assist us by suggesting a process. I also use Prochaska's "Stages of Change" to keep my focus on the Client seeking change.

    1. Gary, While I respect the insights of PP, I fail to see what they offer beyond what the Bible offers. Perhaps you can educate me otherwise.