The politics of wellbeing and the new science of happiness have shot up the agenda since Martin Seligman coined the phrase positive psychology . After all, who does t want to live the good life? So ten years on, why is it that much of this otherwise welcome debate sounds like as much apple-pie - work less , earn eugh , keep fit , find meaning , enjoy freedoms ? The reason is t, ultimately, cynicism. Rather, it is because a central, tricky question is being glossed over: just what is wellbeing? Mark Vern argues that positive psychology has overlooked and sidelined the ancient wisdom on wellbeing, tably from the Greek philosophers. Now is the time to pay it proper attention.Vern shows, surprisingly, that wellbeing is t found in a focus on pleasure, or even the pursuit of happiness itself. Rather, it is a question of meaning and responding to the great challenge of our day: the search for transcendence. For at root, the life that is going well cultivates a way of life based upon love: it is that which draws you out of yourself - in friends, hopes and ultimately the contemplation of mystery - and orientates a life towards that which is good.
Mark Vernon is a freelance writer and journalist. He is an Honorary Research Fellow of Birkbeck College, London.