November 27, 2006

Happiness, It's not Rocket Science

It was too simple to be effective.

That's what Harvard graduate, motivational speaker and executive coach Caroline Adams Miller thought about thinking of three good things that happened during the day.

But she did the homework assignment and found

"The quality of my dreams has changed, I never have trouble falling asleep and I do feel happier,"

she said in Researchers Seek Routes to Happier Life.

Seems like a lot of those exercises suggested by Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania work like

* think of three good things that happened during the day
* find your personal strengths and apply one or more of them in a different way every day for a week. (You can take the test and find your strengths at authentic happiness.)
* savor the pleasing things in your life - the first cup of coffee, a hot shower
* practice random acts of kindness for 10 weeks
* write down what you want to be remembered for.  (This suggestion falls into my idea of your Personal Legacy Archives and keep your life aligned with your legacy)

For a full understanding of Seligman's work and his own journey nothing beats  Eudeamonia, The Good Life by Martin Seligman, published in Edge.

About 25 years ago I began to ask the question, who never gets helpless? That is, who resists collapsing? And the reverse question is, who becomes helpless at the drop of a hat? I got interested in optimism because I found out that the people who didn't become helpless were people who when they encountered events in which nothing they did mattered, thought about those events as being temporary, controllable, local, and not their fault; whereas people who collapsed in a heap immediately upon becoming helpless were people who saw the bad event as being permanent, uncontrollable, pervasive, and their fault. 25 years ago I started working on optimism versus pessimism, and I found that optimistic people got depressed at half the rate of pessimistic people, that optimistic people succeeded better in all professions that we measured except one, that optimistic people had better, feistier, immune systems, and probably lived longer than pessimistic people. We also created interventions that reliably changed pessimists into optimists.

Posted by Jill Fallon at November 27, 2006 3:35 PM | Permalink