As Americans, the “pursuit of happiness” is an important concept. The branch of psychology called “positive psychology” introduced a focus on creating mental health. Positive psychology can also help us enjoy positive institutions. Of course, personal traits strengthen us as individuals, build character and help us to be happy. Positive institutions are also built on the strengths and traits of their organizing principles, their leaders, and others who are associated with them.
“Institutions” include much more than our schools, workplaces and governments. Families are one notable example of institutions. And so, we are actually talking about, not only family values, but the quality of all of the organizations to which we belong. We can also think of our cultural ideals of democratic group decision-making and personal access to free inquiry as institutional strengths that promote happiness.