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By Tim Lomas (auth.)

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At this point, his mother’s stories about his grandfather really hit home. He gives a vivid account of suddenly crossing the threshold, and needing to be ‘a man’. ’ It seemed to happen overnight. It was like, ‘I shouldn’t cry anymore’, almost like I just decided that. So I hardly cried. Whereas when I was a child it [crying] came fairly easily, relief, then it would go. When I was about 13, it was like ssswwwpppp. ’ It was this myth of being the lone man, the myth from my grandfather . . My dad was [also] like that.

2010). , 2010). , 2004). , 2010). However, Pittau et al. (2010) argue that this is not the case: no matter how others fare, being out of work still drags down happiness. Finally, friends and community are the fourth factor. Good social networks impact positively on wellbeing, and protect against stress (Helliwell & Putnam, 2004). This effect is direct: one can turn to others for support. It is also indirect: community cohesion has a positive impact on other factors which also affect wellbeing – known as ‘externalities’ – such as crime levels.

Historically, psychology has generally sought to emulate the medical model of health, pursuing a ‘negative’ approach to wellbeing (Ryff & Singer, 1998). The focus has tended to be on psychological dysfunction, and how this might be ameliorated. This perspective is encapsulated by Freud’s (in)famous remark (to a hypothetical patient) that psychotherapy could aim no higher than hoping to transform the misery of neurosis into ‘common unhappiness’ (Breuer & Freud, 1893– 1895/1955, p. 305). However, a recent countermovement has emerged in the shape of ‘positive psychology’, which seeks to articulate wellbeing in more ‘positive terms’ (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000).

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