Dr. Chris Peterson was a widely loved and cherished leader and founder, along with Dr. Martin Seligman, of the field of Positive Psychology. In his last book, Pursuing the Good Life: 100 Reflections on Positive Psychology, Chris shares a collection of stories embodying excellence, kindness, generosity, courage, perspective, and cheeky humor. In this easy to read, lovely, irreverent text based on the science of Positive Psychology, Chris teaches us with his whole heart. In Pursuing the Good Life, Chris shows us how to recognize and appreciate the best in others with inspiring stories highlighting people, popular culture and what matters most in life: our humanity.
Sadly Chris died too soon this past October at the age of only 62. He was legendary and his legacy will live on. Chris inspired excellence globally, and embodied generosity, perspective, and brilliant humor; he was larger than life. He taught us, with his whole heart how, “Other people matter.” With Dr. Martin Seligman, he led us to understand the importance of harnessing our “Character Strengths and Virtues,” and how to recognize and appreciate the best in others.
Chris was among the most shy, brilliant, generous, funny people I’ve ever met. He inspired and people loved to listen to what Chris had to say. He was a great presenter: a caring, relatively soft spoken public speaker, who always had an important message. When I look back, I can see Dr. Nansook Park and Chris presenting together on Positive Education when we were in China together; Chris always looked so happy when Nansook was with him.
Chris really got it; his perspective on life was uncanny, and I can’t help to think Chris went out on John Lennon’s birthday, October 9. Like John Lennon, Chris was a brilliant man who exemplified humanity, peace and love. He also loved music and was astute about popular culture along with things deeply scientific.
The last time I hugged Chris, we were saying good bye after this year’s Center for Consciousness Studies Conference at George Mason University. Chris was at the checkout desk. We spoke of his excitement on going back to China, Michigan, his family, and about his summer plans. He asked me about my doctoral studies and said 5 words I cherish: “I am proud of you.” I loved him for lighting the fire under me and for helping me to aim to do my best in life, ‘Breathing Positive Psychology.’
It gives me some comfort to know that he lived life so fully, inspired deeply with his kindness, thoughts, words, and actions, and has made iconic contributions forever linking our humanity in perpetuity via his passion for teaching and studies.
Thank you, Chris, and rest well knowing you mattered.