WellesleyWeston Magazine

SPRING 2014

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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Power of Negative Thinking (Perseus, 2001), showcases "defensive pessimism" as an effec- tive strategy for anxious people. By playing through worst-case scenarios, pessimists manage anxiety and perform their best work, explains Norem. Norem also points to the University of Pennsylvania's Dr. James Coyne's review of a massive number of stud- ies to support her objections to positive psy- chology's reverence for optimism. Coyne's paper, "Positive Psychology in Cancer Care: Bad Science, Exaggerated Claims, and Unproven Medicine," shows that a positive mindset does not correlate with positive can- cer outcomes. "When cancer patients are told that a positive attitude can help cure them, we implicitly blame people who succumb to the disease," cautions Norem. She also argues that positive psychology's focus on gratitude can be harmful, too. She calls it, "A slippery slope that has the potential to suppress peo- ple in positions with little power—including some women, minorities, and low wage earners—to be happy with the status quo." Rabbi Rabbi Joel Sisenwine, the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Elohim of Wellesley, defines happiness as a deep sense of contentment that pervades the soul and lasts long after a pleasurable experience is gone. He crafted his Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year sermon to share his thoughts on the topic and encour- age his congregants' active engagement in the 87 s p r i n g 2 0 1 4 | W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e 080-088_WWMa14_science of happiness_v3_WellesleyWeston Magazine 2/1/14 4:22 PM Page 87

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