REFLECTION: There’s no shortage of advice out there on how to live a more satisfying life. I’ve even been known to dispense a word or two myself! 🙂 Sometimes, though, the source gets lost along the way.
For example, there’s an echo of advice living somewhere deep in my mind that prescribes these three pre-requisites for happiness: something to do, something to look forward to, and someone (or something) to love.
There are elements of that buried wisdom in what was my most engaging read of the summer: Martin Seligman’s latest book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being.
In his earlier work, Authentic Happiness, Seligman noted three essentials for happiness: Positive Emotion, Engagement, and Meaning. Positive emotion boils down to good feelings (pleasure, warmth, comfort, etc.) Engagement is about using your best strengths and talents to be in flow – deeply absorbed by the activity at hand. Meaning relates to being in the service of something larger than yourself.
Over the last decade, further research has extended Seligman’s thinking and theory. At this point, he sees happiness as too narrow a target, and well-being as a more well rounded goal. What contributes to well-being? Maximizing these five elements (PERMA, for short): Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Achievement.
You’ll notice two new items on the list: relationships and achievement. Relationships refers to positive connections with others that are built on mutual caring and respect. Achievement is the pursuit of accomplishment and mastery.
ACTION: It’s early September – that ‘back to school, happy new year of another sort’ time of the year. As you move from the more laid back days of summer into the more revved up routines of fall, pay close attention to the state of PERMA in your life.
If one or another of these elements of well-being falls short, try something to kick it up a notch or two in the days ahead.
Focus on something or someone for which you are grateful. Make time for an activity that really turns your crank. Spend a bit of time with someone whose company you enjoy. Tap into the underlying value in an everyday errand. Tackle and finish a loose end task. Focusing on any one of these areas could give your well being a much needed boost.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Life is not merely to be alive, but to be well.” – Marcus Valerius Martial
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK: ‘Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being’ by Martin Seligman. Simon & Schuster. 2011.