Authentic Happiness, Wellbeing and Flourishing - Lessons from Positive Psychology: Day 17 of 40 DAYS OF GROWTH

From Friday 19th January, everyday for 40 days, I will be sharing something each day that has either (1) changed my way of thinking or perspective, (2) helped me get through a challenging period of transition, change or growth, or (3) changed my life for the better. I've called it '40 Days of Growth'. I'd love it if you followed along with me on this journey - contributing what has also helped you to learn, grow and change. And, if I can support you on your own learning journey, please do let me know 😃

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The Science of Authentic Happiness - Lessons from Positive Psychology:

Day 17 of 40 DAYS OF GROWTH

Day 17 of 40 DAYS OF GROWTH focuses on some key lessons that have helped improve my wellbeing and happiness levels from research coming out of the Positive Psychology field. In particular: learning Martin Seligman's 'P.E.R.M.A' model of wellbeing and the 'Character Strengths and Virtues' assessment. This blog will contain a link to the two online assessments you can do (which I LOVE!) which helps to improve your self-awareness of how well you are 'flourishing' and how you can learn to flourish more. Other blog posts will cover the power of gratitude and getting into 'flow'.

I'd love to hear from you in the comments section below about what your character strengths and virtues are once you've done the assessment! :)

 

What is Positive Psychology?

One of the 'fathers' of the positive psychology movement, Christopher Peterson, defined it as "the scientific study of what makes life most worth living" (2008, 'What is Positive Psychology, and What Is It Not?'). Two other 'fathers' of the movement, Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in 2000, defined it as "the scientific study of positive human functioning on multiple levels that include the biological, personal, relational, institutional, cultural, and global dimensions of life". The Positive Psychology Centre at the University of Pennyslvania says: This field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of work, love and play.

Essentially, it is a field of psychology that's concerned with how to live a "good life" - a life that is well-lived and fulfilling. It's fascinating!!

 

HOW CAN INDIVIDUAL HAPPINESS BE developed?

Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association asked the question:

What is it that enables you to cultivate your talents, to build deep, lasting relationships with others, to feel pleasure, and to contribute meaningfully to the world? In a word, what is it that allows you to flourish?

Positive psychologists have suggested numerous ways in which individual happiness may be developed. Yay! This blog will talk about two of these (others will be covered in later blogs).

One answer is by focusing on and improving WELLBEING.

Sounds like common sense, right? Look after yourself = feeling better about yourself (and happier in the process). But, what does positive psychology say about wellbeing??

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WHAT DOES POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY SAY ABOUT WELLBEING?

Essentially, “well-being” is critical. Happiness (or Positive Emotion) becomes one of the five pillars of Positive Psychology, along with Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment—or PERMA, the permanent building blocks for a life of profound fulfillment.

You can even do online assessments that can help you assess where your well-being sits on the 'PERMA' scale! - see https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/ and https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/learn

 

Character Strengths and Virtues

Another way that individual happiness can be developed is by (1) developing self-awareness of your signature character strengths and virtues and (2) USING THEM on a regular basis!

I can 100% agree with the power of the above statement. I've taken the VIA character strengths survey and, using that knowledge, I've found my day-to-day experiences are better and I feel happier :). Sounds simplistic, but it's true!

I really recommend taking the survey at Authentic Happiness questionnaires.

If you're interested in learning where the virtues and strengths come from:

The development of the Character Strengths and Virtues (CSV) handbook (2004) represented the first attempt by Seligman and Peterson to identify and classify positive psychological traits of human beings. ...This manual identified 6 classes of virtues (i.e., "core virtues"), underlying 24 measurable character strengths.[46]
The organization of the 6 virtues and 24 strengths is as follows:
  1. Wisdom and Knowledge: creativitycuriosityopen-mindednesslove of learningperspectiveinnovation
  2. Courage: braverypersistenceintegrityvitalityzest
  3. Humanity: lovekindnesssocial intelligence
  4. Justice: citizenship, fairness, leadership
  5. Temperance: forgiveness and mercyhumilityprudenceself control
  6. Transcendence: appreciation of beauty and excellencegratitudehopehumor

 

Jen y's signature strengths:

1.     Appreciation of beauty and excellence - "You notice and appreciate beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience".

2.     Curiosity - "You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery".

3.     Kindness - "You are kind and generous to others, and you are never too busy to do a favour. You enjoy doing good deeds for others, even if you do not know them well".

The test is pretty spot on! When I take the time to spend time in and appreciate nature... when I listen to beautiful music or watch a talented person... when I get to explore my curiosity by asking questions or researching... when I get the opportunity to do something for someone else - all of these things make me feel GOOOOOOOOOOOD! I like to #throwkindnesslikeconfetti :)

What about YOU? I'd love to know what your signature strengths are! It's a great insight into a person :)

Love,

Jen Y

 

p.s. Interested in learning more about 'authentic happiness', P.E.R.M.A. and your character strengths and virtues?

The Authentic Happiness website is developed by the University of Pennyslvania's Positive Psychology Center. The website provides FREE RESOURCES where people can learn about Positive Psychology through readings, videos, research, opportunities, conferences, questionnaires with feedback and more. They ask you to register before taking the questionnaires (as the results are used for statistical and research purposes).