China’s economy and number of wealthy citizens have grown very rapidly over the past several years. Despite the country’s robust financial growth, recent high-profile events (including two violent attacks on preschool children and a ten person suicide at a manufacturing plant) have shined the spotlight on mental health issues in China. Experts say the nation’s rise in wealth is not being matched by a rise in well-being and overall happiness. To meet that need, psychology faculty from UC Berkeley have teamed up with faculty from Tsinghua University in Beijing to host the nation’s first-ever conference on positive psychology.
Positive psychology is a relatively new branch of psychology that seeks to nurture positive elements of mental health rather than simply focus on treating specific mental health issues. It is based on the idea that there are a number of core strengths and virtues inherent in positive human psychology, and that these benefit the overall mental health of individuals and institutions. These strengths and virtues include wisdom, knowledge, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence. Positive psychology has been used in schools and workplaces across the United States as a means of encouraging confidence, achievement, honesty, teambuilding and collaborative problem solving.
The upcoming Beijing conference, titled “First China International Conference on Positive Psychology,” has drawn attention from not only psychologists but teachers, business leaders, and other scholars in China as well. Speakers will present findings on the science and psychology behind living a meaningful life, human morality, and religion (especially Buddhism) and a number of other topics. UC Berkeley’s psychologists, who helped conceive of and plan the conference, hope that drawing on the work of international academics will help set in motion a growing mindset of proven, positive emotions—a mindset that hopefully starts to catch up with the growing finances of this swiftly changing country.
© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.