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EASTERN PERSPECTIVES ON

POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY
INTRODUCTION
• The eastern perspective seek to become
one with the march of changes
• Try to find meaning in the natural ups
and down of living
• Easterners move with the cycle of life
until the change process becomes natural
and enlightenment is achieved
INTRODUCTION
• Westerners search for rewards in the physical
plane whereas easterners seek to transcend the
human plane and rise to the spiritual one.
• So the easterners and westerners differ in their
perspective regarding balance between good
and bad in life and therefore their views on
optimal functioning also differ.
• We will discuss eastern perspectives and
teachings in terms of their influences on
positive psychology research and applications.
CONFUCIANISM
• A tradition associated with China
• Founder – ‘Confucius’
• Emphasis on ‘morality’ for the cure of
evil
• Emphasis on welfare of others
CONFUCIANISM
The attainment of virtues is the core of
Confucian teachings. The five virtues are
central to living a moral existence are:
• jen (humanity)
• yi (duty)
• li (etiquette)
• zhi (wisdom)
• xin (truthfulness)
TAOISM
• Associated with China
• Creator-: Lao-Tzu
• The key concept is ‘Tao’ (pronounced as
“Dow”)
• Tao is roughly translated as ‘the way’
• Tao is the energy that surrounds everyone and
is a power that envelopes, surrounds, and
flows through all things.
TAOISM
• Emphasis on the harmony between contrasting
concepts like no light without dark, no male without
female, and so on.
• ‘yin and yang’ symbol also reflects ever changing
balance between contrasting forces and desires.
• Achievement of naturalness and spontaneity are
important goal in Taoist philosophy
• Virtues of humanity, justice, and temperance must
be practiced
• One who achieves transcendence do not need to
think of optimal functioning rather behaves
virtuously in a natural manner.
Yin Yang
The ancient Chinese subscribe to a
concept called Yin Yang which is a
belief that there exist two
complementary forces in the
universe. One is Yang which
represents everything positive or
masculine and the other is Yin which
is characterized as negative or
feminine. One is not better than the
other. Instead they are both necessary
and a balance of both is highly
desirable.
BUDDHISM
The four noble truths of ‘Buddhism’ are:
• Life is suffering, essentially painful from birth to
death
• All suffering is caused by ignorance of the nature of
reality and the resultant craving, attachment, and
grasping
• Suffering can be ended by overcoming ignorance
• The way to relief from suffering is the noble eightfold
path
BUDDHISM
The eightfold path
• Right views
• Right intention
• Right speech
• Right action
• Right livelihood
• Right effort
• Right mindedness
• Right contemplation
BUDDHISM
Brahma Viharas (universal virtues)
• Love (maitri)
• Compassion (karuna)
• Joy (mudita)
• Equanimity (upeksa)
The concept of ‘Nirvana’ (final destination)
HINDUISM
• Upanishads are the written source
• Emphasis on ‘interconnectedness’ of all things
Paths after death
• Reincarnation (returning to earth)
• No reincarnation (highest knowledge possible
was achieved)
Thus, all the eastern philosophies
emphasize on the importance of
‘Virtue’ for good life.
EAST MEETS WEST
Cultural differences give information
about strengths identified in each
culture and ways in which positive
outcomes are achieved.
VALUE SYSTEMS:

• Individualistic/collectivistic
ORIENTATION TO TIME

• Eastern cultures emphasize more


on learning from the past
(ancestors)
• To recognize and learn the
wisdom ancestors gained
THOUGHT PROCESSES
• The differences in philosophical approaches to
life, however may make the searches look very
different.
• A westerner draws a straight line to his goal,
looking carefully for obstacles and finding
possible ways around them. His goal is to
achieve this eternal happiness.
• For a easterner such happiness may not make
sense rather he will consider it as ‘end of
unhappiness’.
WAYS TO POSITIVE OUTCOMES
• Both western and eastern thinking have
different focus.
Individualism/collectivism
But two constructs are common
• Compassion
• Harmony
COMPASSION
• Aristotle in western perspective noted the
concept of compassion.
• Confucian concept of ‘jen’ (humanity),
Buddhist concept of ‘karuna’ also gave
importance to compassion.
• Compassion an aspect of humanity involves
looking outside ourselves and thinking about
others.
• Compassion fosters group along with self.
HARMONY
• The balance and harmony that one
achieves good life.
• In eastern philosophy harmony is viewed
as central to achieving happiness.
• Hinduism gave the concept of
‘interconnectedness’
Conclusion
Thus positive psychology takes both views
into consideration where virtues and
strengths are given importance.
Positive Psychology aims to identify and
nurture these virtues and strengths to
achieve optimal functioning.