Dr. Dave Schramm with USU Extension stopped by with the following message:
"For decades, the focus of psychology has been on disorders, diseases, mental illness and maladaptive behaviors. Dr. Martin Seligman, a pioneer of Positive Psychology, led a shift away from an emphasis on negativity to one of positivity, flourishing, and focusing on strengths. He once said, 'I do not believe that you should devote overly much effort to correcting your weaknesses. Rather, I believe that the highest success in living and the deepest emotional satisfaction comes from building and using your signature strengths.' (Seligman, 2002, p. 13). Most people are well aware of their mistakes, faults, and shortcomings. Yet, one of the best predictors of happiness and growth is using our strengths regularly.
Seligman believes that happiness has three dimensions that can be cultivated:
The Pleasant Life - the pleasant life is about pleasures, enjoyment, and comfort. This could include a bowl of ice cream, watching your favorite TV show, shopping, or playing video games - things that make you feel good. Another aspect of the pleasant life is learning to savor and appreciate these pleasures, including companionship, the environment and our bodily needs.
While it is great to indulge in things that make us feel good, these feelings are often short-lived, shallow, and seldom lead to deeper levels of joy.
The Good Life - the good life is achieved through discovering our unique strengths and virtues and using them creatively to enhance our work and family lives. These are different than talents, which are cultivated from what exists rather than what develops through effort. We discover our strengths by noticing what we love to do, those things that challenge us and get us so engaged that we lose track of time. You can discover your character strengths by completing Seligman`s free survey found at http://www.viacharacter.org
The Meaningful Life - the meaningful life is marked by purpose and meaning and is achieved through using your strengths for purposes greater than yourself. This could include devoting time to a variety of causes ranging from faith-based to political or environmental. This is a more enduring happiness and joy that comes from turning outward, serving others, and finding meaning through contributing to others` happiness.
Our greatest joy and successes as individuals come from using our strengths and managing our weaknesses; our greatest unity in groups comes from appreciating each other`s strengths. To learn more you may be interested in Seligman`s book, Authentic Happiness."
Find out more by visiting USU extension online here.