“Why are you here?”
Most people have probably wondered something similar about a coworker or classmate who has a chronically bad attitude about being “stuck” in their situation. Maybe they are there because students are encouraged to get good grades to earn diplomas or degrees so they can get a good job that will pay off their good education and the luxuries of their adult life. But are they encouraged to be “happy” or find their “well-being”?
In the New York Times article, “A New Gauge to See What’s Beyond Happiness,” former president of the American Psychological Association and founder of the positive psychological movement, Martin Seligman, talks about his new attitude about happiness. In hindsight, his 2002 best seller “Authentic Happiness” was flawed in the “limitations of the concept.” He found himself asking why people continued to go about their lives doing things that didn’t make them happy. Even he was guilty of pursuing the unfulfilling. For him, it was playing joyless games of bridge, which he continues to play to this day and even lead to him winning second place in the North American pairs championship.
In his new book, “Flourish,” he addresses the holes in his previous study and instead of continuing a search for happiness, starts a new search for well-being. “Well-being cannot exist just in your own head,” he writes. “Well-being is a combination of feeling good as well as actually having meaning, good relationships, and accomplishment.” He created the acronym Perma for the five elements that we need for our well-being: Positive emotion, Engagement (the feeling of being lost in a task), Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment.
Maybe the employees and students who complain about their personal and professional life, who don’t have the spirit of curiosity, and who feel stagnant and therefore angry, scared, or cornered are without meaning and accomplishment and therefore can’t be positive, engaged, or develop relationships. They don’t realize they’re responsible for their own choices. As soon as they realize the power and responsibility they have to pave their own path, they can stop playing the role of victim. An employee or student who can embrace challenge accepts that they have choice to accept or change their situation. What are you choosing to think about and what are you choosing to do?
How can educators, parents, or people who work with kids teach them the power of choice while their brains are still forming? How can we teach the concept of choice and the connection between what you think and what you do?
“A New Gauge to See What’s Beyond Happiness,” by John Tierney. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/17/science/17tierney.html?pagewanted=1&emc=eta1