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Our Elusive Pursuit of Happiness

Our Elusive Pursuit of Happiness
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The “pursuit of Happiness” is famously included in the Declaration of Independence as one of our “unalienable Rights.” But what is the best way to undertake that chase?

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This may surprise you: Research shows that those who work hardest pursuing happiness end up unhappier! And, while the anticipation of our happiness is compelling, once achieved, it is fleeting. In the blog post “5 Rituals to Keep You Happy All the Time,” author and speaker Eric Barker dove into this topic, and he offered a strategy for working smarter, not harder, at improving your likelihood of feeling happy.

Barker shared that psychologist and University of Pennsylvania professor Martin Seligman, one of the pioneers of positive psychology, has identified five components that enable happiness; he uses the acronym PERMA to refer to them.

Positive Emotions – These include being grateful for the present and the past and feeling optimistic about the future. When you have an emotionally rich moment of deep joy, savor it. Take time to let it sink in and be absorbed.

Engagement – We are meant to live life fully engaged. As Seligman says, “Engagement is an experience in which someone fully deploys their skills, strengths, and attention for a challenging task.” We are not meant to be sitting on the bench—we are meant to be in the game.

Relationships – We are each moved by being appreciated for who we are as a person. We connect to others who appreciate us. This connection creates a safe and secure feeling for both of us.

Meaning – Each of us possesses a deep and meaningful purpose to contribute to the benefit of others for today and for tomorrow. When honoring that purpose, we like ourselves, regardless of the results. (At FS/A, we refer to this as Stage III Fulfillment – Benefiting Others.)

Accomplishment – Accomplishment may be our greatest motivator. Whether subjective or objective, we need measures that tell us we positively impact the world. We need to acknowledge our accomplishments for them to become habits. Take time to celebrate.

Enjoy your journey to happiness.