I recently watched an old lecture on TedTalks by Dr. Martin Seligman. He is a co-founder of the field of positive psychology. Prior to World War II, Dr. Seligman stated there were three missions of psychology. Those missions were to heal mental illness, to help people make their lives better, and to help people identify their natural strengths and abilities, as well as nurture them. Psychology however, mostly worked off the disease model of Pathogenic Psychology to treat mental illness.
Dr. Seligman thought that the field of psychology needed to focus on the other two missions of building people up and making their lives better, as hard as it has focused on the mental illness pathology. Through science and research, he helped prove why happiness was important, how to better achieve it, and the health benefits of living a happy life. According to Seligman, there are three ways happiness can be manufactured and achieved. There are known as his three pillars and individually are called the pleasant life, the good life, and the meaningful life. Together they cultivate living the full life of happiness.
• Pillar 1: A life of positive emotions or the pleasant life, has to do with living a life for pleasures, comfort, gratification, and other surface fillers that create a happy mood. Eating favorite foods, dancing, playing sports, and having sex are just a handful of things you can do to cultivate happiness of this kind.
• Pillar 2: A life of engagement or the good life, has to do with living a life that is fulfilled through signature strengths and unique virtues by using flow. The best example of flow is a hobby or career you can get lost in doing by losing track of time or space. I do this a lot when I’m cooking or writing. It’s best to have a job or position doing what you love because your life can be more fulfilling that way.
• Pillar 3: A life of meaning or the meaningful life, has to do with living a life that is bigger than oneself; one of service, belonging, or belief. Are there any organizations near and dear to your heart that you always say, “oh, I’ll help out one day!” Make that day today. Start off small with a little spring cleaning and take those comforters and sheet sets you no longer use to a homeless shelter, or drop off goods to a soup kitchen. Any little thing you can do will mean the world to someone else.
Dr. Seligman says to figure out what your five highest strengths are, then re-craft your life to use them as much as possible. Re-craft your work, your love, your play, your friendship, and your parenting. Know what your highest strengths are and use them to belong to, and in the service of something larger than you are. Become involved with your community and be change you want to see in the world. Work at making a difference with your life, in the life of others.
Research shows that happy people have greater resiliency, stronger immune systems, greater coping skills when dealing with stress and trauma, and their life span and quality of life are increased. Positive people also draw positive people and things into their life and their lives are more fulfilled. Those who achieve happiness through the meaningful life tend to have greater work production, increased salaries, greater creativity, greater leadership and negotiation skills, increased marriage potential and more fulfilling marriages, greater sociability and an increased amount of friends, and they are more philanthropic.
So think POSITIVE, be POSITIVE, and live POSITIVE My Lovelies. Life is too short to live any other way.
If you are interested in learning more about your personality, Dr. Seligman has a series of tests you can take online at https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/testcenter
You can see Dr. Martin Seligman’s lecture on TedTalks at http://www.ted.com/talks/martin_seligman_on_the_state_of_psychology