Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a professor and former chairman of the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago, yesterday spoke at the 9th Yumin Memorial Lecture on “positive psychology and a positive world view, new hope for the future.”
The lecture was sponsored by the Yumin Cultural Foundation, a nonprofit organization that was established in memory of the late Hong Jin-ki, co-founder of the JoongAng Ilbo, the owner of the JoongAng Daily.
“People have the choice to make themselves better,” said the professor. “They can be happier, helpful to others, looked upon by others.”
The 75-year-old professor described how positive psychology emerged as important in human evolution beginning over 2 million years ago. He said positive psychology can help people maintain happier lives in several ways.
He said we should believe that we are responsible for our own lives, stressing that “we are the shapers of our future.” Finally, he emphasized the importance of developing ways to achieve harmony with the planet. He said humans are “the stewards of our world.”
Over 700 people, ranging from psychology experts to university students, attended. Because there were only 300 seats available, many sat on the floor or stood. Some took notes. Following the lecture, Kim In-ja, a renowned psychologist, Kim Dongwook, a public administration studies professor at Seoul National University, and Csikszentmihalyi held a panel discussion.
Kim In-ja said genetic factors make up 50 percent of positive psychology and environmental factors are 10 percent. “And 40 percent comes from personal choice,” Kim said, adding that positive feelings, curiosity and a desire to explore extend human creativity.
Kim Dong-wook explained how positive psychology can be applied to daily life. “Korea’s modern history can be interpreted as a flow of happiness,” Kim said. “Korean people say sinbaram, which is quite similar to flow. It’s unexplainable through science, but it means people have achieved something that is close to a miracle. Korean people get into things with a very positive spirit. The modern history of Korea is an example of positive thinking. This once war-torn country has freedom of speech and democracy and we are the 15th-largest economy in the world.”
Park Yeol-lira, a freshman at Sejong University, left the talk impressed. “I was interested in learning about a positive life and the timing of the lecture was perfect to fill my knowledge about positive psychology,” he said.
By Kim Mi-ju [firstname.lastname@example.org]