Gratitude – Another good reason to be grateful

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.”

– Melody Beattie


There is an excellent article in The Scientific AmericanWhich Character Strengths are Most Predictive of Well-Being?  The article written by Scott Barry Kaufman was posted by Lisa Sansom on a Positive Psychology site I follow.  In the article, Kaufman explores Which character strengths are most predictive of well-being?  In his book Flourish, Martin Seligman, the founder of the field of positive psychology, argued that the five fundamental elements of well-being are:

  1. P – Positive Emotion
  2. E – Engagement
  3. R – Positive Relationships
  4. M – Meaning
  5. A – Accomplishment

I’ve written about PERMA in previous posts. 

In his study, Kaufman discovered that all five elements of PERMA were very strongly correlated with each other. People who tended to score higher on one of the elements (e.g., positive emotions) tended to score higher on the other elements (e.g., engagement, positive relationships, meaning, and accomplishment) and those who tended to score lower on one of the elements also tended to score lower on the others.

That makes sense, but which of the 24 Character Strengths is most likely to lead to well-being? In case you are not familiar with the 24 Character Strenghts, here is a chart:

Displaying

You can get to know your character strengths by taking the VIA Survey.

Know Your Character Potential

Character testYou have many different types of strengths. These can be skills, talents, interests or resources; however these strengths do not reflect the “real” you— who you are at your core. Only by understanding your character strengths can you know how special and capable you really are. Character strengths are the personality characteristics that make you authentic, unique and feel engaged.

The VIA Survey of character strengths is a simple test that takes just a few minutes of your time and provides a wealth of information to help you understand your core characteristics. Created under the direction of Dr. Martin Seligman, the “father of Positive Psychology”  and author of Authentic Happiness and Flourish, and Dr. Christopher Peterson, distinguished scientist at the University of Michigan and author of A Primer in Positive Psychology, this self-assessment character survey is regarded as a central tool of positive psychology and has been used in hundreds of research studies and taken by over 2.6 million people in over 190 countries.  It is the only free, scientifically validated online character strengths tool available.

It’s well worth the time to take the survey and learn more about what makes you feel engaged.

Back to Kaufman’s study – he found that the top three character strengths that were most strongly correlated with well-being were:

Hope, Gratitude, and Love

But that The single best predictor of well-being was gratitude.

So if you do seek well-being, (and honestly, who doesn’t?) your best bet is gratitude.

I’ll close with a longer video, lasting almost an hour, but an excellent look at these strengths, called A Character Strengths Revolution.

If you take the Signature Strength test, I’d love to hear about your experience.  And let me know what you thought of the video.  Positive Psychology is a popular topic on YouTube – there are several videos to choose between.

As always, thank you for visiting my blog.  I appreciate it.

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When One Door Closes . . .

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

– Alexander Graham Bell


In an excellent article from Positive Psychology Program, seven concepts are explored for increasing a person’s feeling of well-being. It’s a great list:

  • When a Door Closes Another Opens
  • Gratitude by Mental Elimination
  • Similar Strengths – Group activity
  • Flow Experiences
  • Walking Meditation
  • 3 Positive Things a Day
  • Chasing Happiness

It’s a helpful article with exercises to explore each concept.  The first concept – When one door closes, another one opens – is one I think we’ve all had, and I think most of us would agree that the second door does eventually open, but waiting in the hallway is a drag!

Using these questions to look at that closed door can help:

  1. What led to the door closing? What helped you open the new door?
  2. How long did it take you to realize the new open door?
  3. Was it easy or hard for you to realize the new door open?
  4. What prevented you from seeing the new open door?
  5. What can you do next time to realize the new open door sooner?
  6. What were the effects of the door closing on you? Did it last long?
  7. Did the experience bring anything positive?
  8. Which character strengths did you have to use in this activity?
  9. What does a closed door represent to you now?
  10. What did you learn from the door closing?
  11. Is there more room for growth from these types of experiences?
  12. Is there a closed door that you still wish to see open?

One thing that has helped me during those ‘closed door times’ is the idea of Living Curiously. I recently discovered a wonderful website, ‘Living Curiously Lifestyle.’

The website is by a woman named Becki Saltzman – she and I share the same publicist, Joanne McCall.  One door closing led me to McCall, and what a great new door opening that turned out to be. I really recommend you spend some time exploring Saltzman’s website. It is interesting, fun and she has great boots!

The article in Positive Psychology Program is really wonderful. I suggest using the seven activity exercise for seven days, one a day.

It is thought-provoking and positive-inspiring.

What better way to close than with a clip from the father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman.

I’d love to hear about your experience using the seven positive psychology activities.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

Happiness – At least 40% is up to YOU!

“Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today.  I can choose which it shall be.  Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet.  I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”

― Groucho Marx


HAPPY – The Movie tells us in no uncertain terms that Happiness is within our grasp.

While 50% of our level of happiness is genetic, only 10% is attributed to circumstances (like income, health or the number of shoes in our closet).  The other 40% is up to us:  what we do, how we think and our intentions to be happy.

HAPPY is uplifting and insightful.  It asserts that we can actually re-wire our brains, altering its structure and function, by engaging in some simple activities.  And that happiness is a choice that everyone can make, everyday.  The movie outlines several ways to be happier:

  • Simple Meditation Practices (*see info below about the Compassion Meditation)
  • Physical activity, especially that which gets us “in the flow” and unaware of our surroundings, can contribute to chronic happiness
  • Other activities which get us “in the flow” – like playing music, doing something we love
  • Being of service
  • Community, being with friends, and of course, Love

This information is consistent with Martin Seligman’s findings:

Seligman’s Five Elements of Well-Being (PERMA):

  • Positive Emotions (P) – Feeling positive emotions such as joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and love.
  • Engagement (E) – Being fully absorbed in activities that use your skills and challenge you. (Flow)
  • Relationships (R) – Having positive relationships is a universal requirement to well-being. (Community)
  • Meaning (M) – Belonging to and serving something you believe is bigger than yourself. (Service and Helping others)
  • Accomplishment (A) – Pursuing success, winning, achievement and mastery for their own sake. (Gratitude)

The Center for Investigating Healthy Minds (CIHM) is doing ground-breaking work on the subject of Meditation and Happiness.  One of the people interviewed in the movie is Dr. Richard Davidson:

Richard J. Davidson, PhD, is a renowned neuroscientist and one of the world’s leading experts on the impact of contemplative practices, such as meditation, on the brain. He is the founder and chair of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He is perhaps best known for his groundbreaking work in studying emotion and the brain. A friend and confidante of the Dalai Lama, he is a highly sought after expert and speaker internationally. Time magazine named him one of the most influential people in the world.

The same meditation practice used in these studies is offered by CIHM online, free of charge. So it’s even easier to choose happiness!

If you haven’t seen the movie, please take the time to watch it. In my opinion, it is nothing less than life-altering!

 


 

Please let me know if you’ve seen HAPPY, and if so, what you thought of it.  And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

 

 

Understanding Happiness

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”

– Aristotle


In my post Lifelong Learning, I introduced a wonderful course offered on iTunes U called Understanding Happiness.  This course is actually a compilation of 7 different TED talks.  The first talk was the one I discussed in my previous post, Paying Attention to Happiness, in which Nancy Etcoff explores the Surprising Science of Happiness.

The second talk in this course is by the “father” of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman.  His talk, On Positive Psychology, is informative and engaging and very well worth the 20 minutes of time for anyone even slightly interested in this field.  He gives the history, the science and the reasoning behind the field.   He points out three key points.  Positive Psychology is:

  • As concerned with strengths as it is with weaknesses
  • As interested in building the best as in repairing the worst
  • As concerned with making the lives of normal people fulfilling and nurtuiring talent as with healing
Note, it does not say “just be happy.”  It does not say that it is not concerned with healing, just that it is just as concerned with nurturing the positive as it is with healing; it does not say ignore one’s weaknesses, it is just also concerned with finding strengths.  As I suggested in Moving Toward Authentic Self
In order to make changes in the present and not stay stuck, we have to look at the past and understand what led us to our current situation. We need to work through and move through our feelings of pain and loss in order to move on. Please understand I am absolutely and positively a believer in Positive Psychology and finding happiness.  But it must be Authentic Happiness.  And in my opinion Authentic Happiness can only be obtained when we have done our work and touched our Authentic Self.
For those of you interested in learning more and even taking a free test to assess your own level of Authentic Happiness, you can go to Authentic Happiness.
So for those of you that believe that Positive Psychology is the science of  just be happy and get on with it, I hope you will take the time to listen to Dr. Seligman’s informative and interesting talk linked below.  It goes a long way in helping us in Understanding Happiness.

Please let me know your thoughts Martin Seligman’s TED talk at iTunes U, and I’d love to hear about what you think about Positive Psychology.

And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

How much is enough?

“Materialism can negatively influence well-being.”

– Ed Diener and Martin Seligman


We often get lost in the Myth of More – believing that “more” will make us happier – more clothes, more wine, more food, more money, more stuff!

In my post Finding Joy,  Michael Norton describes that people believe that the prospect of possessing things will make them happy.

https://patticlark.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/finding-joy/

But Diener and Seligman, leaders in Positive Psychology argue that from an economic point of view, materialism can actually negatively influence well-being.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2007/10/14/why-money-doesn-t-buy-happiness.html

And even when a business magazine  The Business Insider explored what will make you happy, more stuff was not on the list:

http://www.businessinsider.com/things-that-make-you-happier-2011-1#

So how much is enough?  In many articles, including this one on Zen Habits, it is argued that we already have enough now.

http://zenhabits.net/key-question-how-much-is-enough/

So instead of more stuff, most psychologists and even some economists are suggesting a change in attitude.

This wonderful video illustrates our rediculous attraction to more stuff and the damage it is doing to us and to our planet.

It is appropriately called The Story of Stuff.

 

Please let me know what you thought of The Story of Stuff.

And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

Authentic Happiness

The pleasant life: a life that successfully pursues the positive emotions about the present, past, and future.

The good life: using your signature strengths to obtain abundant gratification in the main realms of your life.

The meaningful life: using your signature strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than you are .”

– Martin Seligman


What is Authentic Happiness?  Is it really possible to achieve?  Martin Seligman thinks so, and in my opinion he makes a very convincing argument.

In the video below, Seligman discusses being authentically happy.  He introduces us to the idea of PERMA:
‘Positive emotions’
‘Engagement’
‘Relationships’
‘Meaning’
‘Accomplishment’

One of the most significant factors in finding authentic happiness is learning about our signature strengths and using them daily.

Discovering your signature strengths is easy and fun!  Take the free signature strength test here:

https://www.viame.org/survey/Account/Register

Once you discover your own signature strengths, then it’s your decision – do you aim for The Pleasant Life, The Good Life, or The Meaningful Life?  You decide.

 

 

If you take the Signature Strength test, I’d love to hear about your experience.  And let me know what you thought of Seligman’s video.  Positive Psychology is a popular topic on YouTube – there are several videos to choose between.

As always, thank you for visiting my blog.  I appreciate it.