Are you as wealthy as you’d like to be? Probably the first thing that comes to mind in response to that question is your bank account, stock portfolio, or real estate holdings. Seems like you can never have too much money, let alone enough. Yet, all the great spiritual traditions emphasize inner wealth over material wealth. In fact, some spiritual traditions even suggest that material wealth may be an obstacle.
So there are definitely other kinds of wealth, such as spiritual wealth and psychological wealth. Mother Theresa, who worked with the poorest of the poor in Bangladesh, was appalled by spiritual poverty she encountered in the West. In her visit to America, she perceived an epidemic of loneliness, which she saw as more corrosive than leprosy. So one key component of psychological wealth would be a rich network of relationships. Another might be what psychologists call resilience. Yet another might be a sense of purpose and feeling like your life fits into the larger scheme of things. These are the sorts of issues being explored by the relatively new field of Positive Psychology.
Positive psychologists are interested in exploring the factors that lead to human flourishing, as well as practical applications for improving our psychological well-being. My guest today is one such positive psychologist who is working at the frontiers of our understanding of psychological wealth. Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener is widely known as the Indiana Jones of Positive Psychology because his research on happiness has taken him to such far flung places as Greenland, India and Kenya. He the co-author of Happiness: Unlocking The Mysteries of Psychological Wealth.