The Pursuit of Happiness

Project Description

Most famously formulated in the American Declaration of Independence, "the pursuit of happiness" theme is an ancient and enduring Western ideal grounded in various Hebrew, Greco-Roman, Christian, and Enlightenment sources. Recent developments in positive psychology have brought the idea of happiness back to public attention with a flurry of books and undergraduate courses. By putting religion and science in conversation, and by focusing on the relation between altruistic love and happiness, our project will retrieve some of the rich traditional teachings captured in this ideal and reconstruct them for our day in light of the new findings of the human and social sciences and of the new liberties of constitutional democracies.

Project Accomplishments
  • Roundtable, October 13-15, 2006
  • Roundtable, April 20-22, 2007
  • Roundtable, October 12-14, 2007
  • Roundtable, April 11-13, 2008
  • Roundtable, April 17-19, 2009
  • Roundtable, October 16-18, 2009
  • Roundtable, April 16-18, 2010

The John Templeton Foundation and The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love

Senior Advisors
CSLR Participants

Project Publications

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"An Adaptation for Altruism? The Social Causes, Social Effects, and Social Evolution of Gratitude," Current Directions in Psychological Science, Vol. 17, No. 4 (2008): 281-285 Michael E. McCullough, M.B. Kimeldorf, A. Cohen
Better to Give than to Receive: Service, Virtue and Happiness in Christian Ethics New Stephen J. Pope
Beyond Revenge: The Evolution of the Forgiveness Instinct, Jossey-Bass, 2008 Michael E. McCullough
The Bible and the Pursuit of Happiness, Oxford University Press, 2012 New Brent A. Strawn
"The Black-White Paradox in Health: Flourishing in the Face of Inequality," Journal of Personality Corey L.M. Keyes
Called to Happiness: Where Faith and Psychology Meet, Orbis Books, 2011 Sidney Callahan
"Compassion- focused reappraisal, benefit-focused reappraisal, and rumination after an interpersonal offense: Emotion regulation implications for subjective emotion, linguistic responses, and physiology," Journal of Positive Psychology, Vol. 5 (2010): 226-242 Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet
"Compassionate reappraisal and emotional suppression as alternatives to rumination: Implications for forgiveness and psychophysiological well-being," Journal of Positive Psychology Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet
Counting Virtues: The Difference that Transcendence Makes, Oxford University Press New John R. Bowlin
"The Effects of Experiential Avoidance and Rumination on Depression," International Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy W. Edward Craighead, A. Bjornsson, M. Hauser, A. Karris, V. Kaufmann, E.S. Sheets
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In Their Own Words

"Though attacked and wounded, fractured and dispersed, not all African American families were destroyed nor all bloodlines broken. Indeed many of hte writings in the Afro-Protestant Press may be interpreted as demonstrating that even when deliberately unraveled, African American families reknit themselves into kinship communities of families ... that in fact functioned effectively enough to teach self-esteem and to encourage resistance to enslavement, to offer some physical protection and practical advice, and to preserve and perpetuate cultural practices."

–Frances Smith Foster