Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Authentic Happiness

I've been reading the book "Authentic Happiness" by Martin Seligman this week. Well, I actually started it last week but then the whole Breaking Dawn weekend marathon got in the way. So I started it again Monday, and I've really, really been enjoying it. It's all about why some people are happier than others, and how to become happier yourself.

One of the main concepts that stuck out to me is the differentiation between "pleasures" and "gratifications." Seligman calls pleasures things such as a bite of ice cream, a back rub, smelling a nice perfume..anything that is a sensory and emotional experience.

Gratifications, on the other hand, don't necessarily have an accompanying emotion. Think about things where you get "in the zone" and almost lose track of time - things that you get completely absorbed in. This might be rock climbing, scrapbooking, volunteering, gardening...when you really get into them, you're not thinking about how much you enjoy this activity, you're just thinking about the activity. Gratifications take more work and effort - but they end up making you a happier person in the end. The more time people spend in these kinds of activities, the better off they are.

The other thing that I have been interested in so far is the concept of "strengths." Seligman notes that we spend most of our effort trying to correct things that are wrong with us, but we would be much better off if we spent our efforts developing our strengths and figuring out ways to use them every day.

He has a website - If you go there, you can take a Strengths quiz for free. (You do have to register at the website, which means putting in your name and email address.) The quiz is sort of long, it took me about 25 minutes. But then it lists your strengths and in the book talks about ways to best utilize them!

So here are my top 5 strengths:

1. Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness: Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.

2. Perspective (wisdom): Although you may not think of yourself as wise, your friends hold this view of you. They value your perspective on matters and turn to you for advice. You have a way of looking at the world that makes sense to others and to yourself.

3. Social intelligence: You are aware of the motives and feelings of other people. You know what to do to fit in to different social situations, and you know what to do to put others at ease.

4. Gratitude: You are aware of the good things that happen to you, and you never take them for granted. Your friends and family members know that you are a grateful person because you always take the time to express your thanks.

5. Love of learning: You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.

What's neat is that I use four out of the five of these every day right now. Gratitude...well, I'll be honest, I was surprised to see that on there. But I am really thankful for everything I have... so I guess it's up to me to figure out how to incorporate that more in to my daily life.

Thanks everyone, for reading my blog!

What activities do you consider "gratifications?" Mine would be reading novels, scrapbooking, sometimes cooking, sometimes running, and sometimes therapy sessions with clients. (But sometimes those things are just chores, too - I think only the first two are always gratifications.)

What are your strengths? Go take the test! Or just read about the strengths and guess! I'm curious!

1 comment:

odonohoes said...

I can see all 5 of these things in you:)