Economics is called the 'dismal science'. But, for a long time, psychology too would have qualified: it dealt largely with what is wrong and dismal with the human (mental) condition, and tried to find a cure for it. Martin Seligman, a psychology professor at UPenn, who actually did pretty well in that dismal culture -- he discovered 'learned helplessness' as a mechanism for depression -- turned around and decided that it was time that psychology turned its attention from 'helping people to go from minus five to zero' to 'helping them to go from zero or one to five'. In other words, positive psychology, which has now turned into a pretty formidable science with many researchers, academic courses and conferences and even a World Database of Happiness.
In the last couple of years, I read two key popular books backed by solid psychological research and written by professors of psychology : Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman. Both are excellent, and highly recommended.
I wanted to make this post for a while. What forced the issue was this wonderful (and long) piece by Doroty Wade in the Sunday Times. It recounts the history of psychology, and how a bunch of people decided to re-orient it in a positive direction. It has interviews of some of the key people. It summarises their ideas neatly. All of it is done in a nice, conversational tone. In sum, it's great!
And, don't forget the words from a great song from the eighties: "Don't worry, be happy"! :-)