What makes the human heart sing? Researchers are taking a close look. What they've found may surprise you
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Sugary white sand gleams under the bright Yucatán sun, aquamarine water teems with tropical fish and lazy sea turtles, cold Mexican beer beckons beneath the shady thatch of palapas — it’s hard to imagine a sweeter spot than Akumal, Mexico, to contemplate the joys of being alive. And that was precisely the agenda when three leading psychologists gathered in this Mexican paradise to plot a new direction for psychology.
For most of its history, psychology had concerned itself with all that ails the human mind: anxiety, depression, neurosis, obsessions, paranoia, delusions. The goal of practitioners was to bring patients from a negative, ailing state to a neutral normal, or, as University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman puts it, “from a minus five to a zero.” It was Seligman who had summoned the others to Akumal that New Year’s Day in 1998 — his first day as president of the American Psychological Association (APA) — to share a vision of a new goal for psychology.