Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

In pursuit of happiness

In my 18 October 2015 blog, I casually included a TED video by Martin Seligman on Positive Psychology. Actually, I didn’t watch this video until now. I just felt that it would be important to mention it. Indeed it’s an important video – and perhaps even more than that. This remarkable TED video learns us a lot about the pursuit of happiness. Not the movie (IMDb) but the real thing.

Seligman: “For more than 60 years, psychology worked within the disease model. [ ] People were saying psychology is about finding what’s wrong with you. [ ] And the conclusion of that is that psychology and psychiatry, over the last 60 years, can actually claim that we can make miserable people less miserable. And I think that’s terrific. I’m proud of it. But what was not good, the consequences of that were three things.”

Seligman: “The first was moral, that psychologists and psychiatrists became victimologists [ ]. The second cost was that we forgot about [ ] improving normal lives. And the third problem [ ] is, [ ] it never occurred to us to develop interventions to make people happier, positive interventions.” This has led Seligman and others to work on what they call positive psychology – or authentic happiness.

Positive Psychology has determined that there are 3 ways for the pursuit to happiness. Seligman: “The first happy life is the pleasant life. This is a life in which you have as much positive emotion as you possibly can, and the skills to amplify it. The second is a life of engagement – a life in your work, your parenting, your love, your leisure, time stops for you. [ ] And third, the meaningful life.”

Seligman: “The first life is the pleasant life and it’s simply [ ] having as many of the pleasures as you can, as much positive emotion as you can, and learning the skills – savouring, mindfulness – that amplify them, that stretch them over time and space. But the pleasant life has three drawbacks”: (1) it’s inherited for about 50%, (2) people get used to it very quickly, and (3) it’s not very modifiable.

Seligman: The second happy life is “about flow. And it’s distinct from pleasure in a very important way. Pleasure has raw feels: you know it’s happening. It’s thought and feeling. But [ ] during flow, you can’t feel anything. You’re one with the music. Time stops. You have intense concentration.”

Seligman: “And the third path is meaning. This is the most venerable of the happinesses, traditionally. And meaning, in this view, consists of – very parallel to eudaimonia – it consists of knowing what your highest strengths are, and using them to belong to and in the service of something larger than you are.”

Seligman: “It turns out the pursuit of pleasure has almost no contribution to life satisfaction. The pursuit of meaning is the strongest. The pursuit of engagement is also very strong. Where pleasure matters is if you have both engagement and you have meaning, then pleasure’s the whipped cream and the cherry. Which is to say, the full life — the sum is greater than the parts, if you’ve got all three. Conversely, if you have none of the three, the empty life, the sum is less than the parts.”

This TED video – and its script – has helped me enormously. I know understand why I feel happy – even in my circumstances / situation.

Happy (2013) by Pharrell Williams
artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1Wiki-2

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


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