Prof. Chris Kaczor says yes, as long as we understand what happiness is
Dr. Christopher Kaczor, a professor of philosophy and ethics, had always assumed that psychology was an alternative to religion. Then he discovered “positive psychology” and all that changed.
In fact, Kaczor was so impressed with the ways in which Christianity and positive psychology overlapped, he wrote a book about it: The Gospel of Happiness: Rediscover Your Faith Through Spiritual Practice.
Published by Image, an imprint of Penguin Random House, The Gospel of Happiness looks at the empirical findings in positive psychology that point to the wisdom and validity of Christian practices and teachings. It also contains a lot of practical suggestions for how to be happier in your every day life, something everybody seeks.
Many Christians are still skeptical about psychology, but Kaczor says that just because Freud was an atheist and anti-religion doesn’t mean psychology hasn’t come a long way in understanding what it is to be human.
Positive psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on how human beings attain satisfaction and meaning. Personal growth and a view to the future is emphasized over pathology or an obsession with the past. The term “positive psychology” originates with Abraham Maslow, but took a front seat in the general field of psychology in 1998 when Martin Seligman, decided it would be the theme of his tenure as president of the America Psychological Association. Since then, a great deal of research has validated the effectiveness of positive psychology in the aid of well-being and mental health.
“Just as Aristotle’s natural theology bolstered Christian theology, today positive psychology provides an empirical justification and aid for Christian practice, a kind of natural moral theology,” says Kaczor.
The Christian practices and teachings of prayer, gratitude, forgiveness, and virtue, for example, are related to and can be greatly enriched by elements of positive psychology such as meaning, relationships, achievement, engagement and positive emotion.
In this video interview with Aleteia’s Zoe Romanowsky, Prof. Kaczor talks about our pursuit of happiness, and his desire to help Christians uncover the link between their faith and their well-being with his new book.