News21 A Journalism Initiative of the Carnegie and Knight Foundations

Project Banner

USC Off the Beaten Path: The Search for Spirituality

Positive Psychology

Can the power of thinking positively bridge science and religion?
By Chantal Allan, Allison Louie, July 24, 2007

"Be happy," "count your blessings," "I forgive you." Sound familiar? These phrases are part of everyday language. But behind the words is a multi-million-dollar movement called positive psychology.

It started in the 1990s in reaction to what was seen as psychology's preoccupation with the negative. Some say the movement has religious aspects to it, and worry about the intentions of its major funder, the John Templeton Foundation.

The foundation gives up to $10 million — that’s 15 percent of its budget — to positive psychologists every year. It also granted millions to build the Positive Psychology Center in Philadelphia.

Chantal Allan reports for NPR's Day to Day. Researched by Allison Louie.

Heard on NPR

• Listen to Chantal Allen's report heard Sept. 4, 2007 on NPR's midday news program Day to Day:


• Learn more about the John Templeton Foundation at

The Latest

The News21 fellows at USC report on the search for spirituality on paths that intersect with business, science, culture and even sports. Check out "Fellowship of the Rings" and "Fire Poi" for a look at how sport can lead to spirituality. Our tour of spiritual sites in California, a "Magical Mystery Tour" of the state will show you the places to visit off the beaten path. Interested in the cutting edge in treating war vets returning from Iraq? See the story on the military using mindfulness techniques.

Blog Reactions

See all results ...