Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happiness Is A Hard Skill To Master

Juggling, riding a unicycle, bathing a cat, playing the game GO, and raising one eybrow are all hard skills to master. I can raise either eyebrow and juggle at the same time. Happiness is a hard to master, but here are components that we can practice to hone our skills.

According to former American Psychological Association president, Martin Seligman, there are three components of happiness: positive emotion, engagement and meaning. Positive emotion involves our longing to feel good about the past, present and future for the longest time possible. Positive memories have been linked to feelings of happiness and can defend against depression. In order to promote our own positive emotions, we need to look at our past with satisfaction and appreciation. We need to look forward to the future's potential with hope and confidence.

Engagement, the second component of happiness, indicates deep involvement in our work, leading to involvement of your total attention and enjoyment in the activity. We need to enjoy the things that we do. Lack of engagement has been corresponded with, and causally linked to depression.

Martin Seligman states, that we pursue meaning, by using our best strengths “to belong to and serve something that one believes is bigger than the self." We gain satisfaction through using our abilities for a greater purpose. We need to believe that our actions count for a greater good.

These three things can be hard to juggle in our lives. Practicing these "components of happiness" may also help to live a life filled with love:

  • Keep a list of the good things that have or are happening in your life. Start with the past and add to the list as you go.
  • Make a list of your strengths and ways that you can use them daily. Visit for a list of character strengths.
  • List some things for which you would like to be remembered. 
  • Take time to complete and enjoy a daily task. Feel good about getting something completed. Start with a small task and then go bigger.
  • Say "Thank You" often.
  • Smile (a lot).

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