Individual wellbeing is largely dependent on the family and social context in which individuals live and work. This chapter addresses some of the societal factors that are critical, and ways in which a positive psychology perspective might promote positive change. We begin by asking the reader to imagine an ideal society where kindness and the common good prevail, and then we explore issues that get in the way of people flourishing. Poverty, inequality, racism and other forms of discrimination are top of the list. We cite research that shows that countries who have the least gap between the haves and have-nots do better for everyone. In the section on building better societies we consider the need for equity to reduce disadvantage, alongside ways to empower women and address racism and other forms of discrimination. Self-determination, focusing on strengths, and fostering social connection, can all have an impact. This is increasingly important for the next generation. Justice in any society matters, but prison is ineffective. Positive criminology has the potential to reduce recidivism and build more trust in the police. We cite research and activities in all these areas that have led to significant changes, and consider how we might build on these.

Dan Siegel (2012) “Flipping your lid”: A Scientific Explanation

Megan Phelps-Roper (2017) I grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church: Here’s why I left. TED.

Mandela quotation

What makes for a good society?

What gets in the way of a society where everyone can flourish?

What can positive psychology offer?

Social Connection
Building on what’s working

Building better societies

Fairness: equality versus equity
Addressing discrimination?
Feeling safe
Positive criminology
Empowerment of women
Increasing employment prospects

Aspiration and hope