Positive psychology 2.0 wants to get the best out of people and societies, despite and even because of the dark side of human existence. Well, I don’t think life gets darker than Voldemort – the Dark Lord – who makes Harry’s life extremely miserable. He sows death and destruction and he is unable to feel love. He takes the lives of Harry’s parents James and Lily, his godfather Sirius Black, his elf Dobby and many more loved ones. Mourning for lost loved ones is therefore a recurring theme in the books.
Harry also faces setbacks from a different angle. Hogwarts professors who make his life miserable, humiliate him and prevent him from doing fun things such as playing quidditch and taking a day trip to Hogsmeade with his friends. This makes Harry very sad, but he also finds strength in it. He is determined to achieve his goals, no matter what. He receives help from his friends Ron Weasly and Hermione Granger and from other professors who are well disposed towards Harry. It shows that the people around us are very important when life takes a wrong
turn. They can help us to go on in life.
Harry shows courage in the last book. Courage to face evil with an open mind because it is inevitable what is to come. It is inevitable that we will have dark periods in our lives and if we realize that, we can arm ourselves against it in advance. Gratitude for what has been, optimism about the future and acceptance of the present strengthen our resilience. Setback teaches us new insights that we bring to the rest of our lives. Setbacks make us grow.
Now, my Harry Potter books go back into my bookcase. In the coming months, I am continuing my research on positive psychology 2.0 and gratitude. So, stay tuned for updates on this research and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.
Dr. Lilian Jans-Beken is founder and ceo of the Thriving Human Science Center. She graduated in lifespan psychology, received a PhD in positive psychology, and she became an expert in gratitude and mental health. She is a scientific researcher who writes and talks about human thriving in general and gratitude specifically. In 2019, she wrote a book Een zoektocht naar dankbaarheid which is available through her personal website