Saturday, 3 February 2007

The first step

The first step was reading Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman. I tell a lie. The first step (step 0) was subconscious, as something in the title of Authentic Happiness made me take it down from the bookshelf to read the back cover.

I had equated happiness with freedom at university. Autonomy. Not worrying about money. Money had been very tight when I grew up, and the cause of daily rows between my parents. Happiness was something that came with avoiding that.

But Authentic Happiness began the long process of changing that perception. First, it argued that psychology had always been aimed at the mentally unwell. It was focused on getting those people who felt -7 to -2. But what about the people who were +2? How do you get them to +7?

Second, it argues that happiness is indisputably not about money, but about friends, family, hobbies, religion, marriage. So what? I thought. But one more thing....

'Authentic Happiness' is found in doing the things that you love and are good at, in a cause you believe in. This may be common currency, but it was new to me. It was a step change in my thinking about what a 'good' life was and how to attain it.

I needed to think carefully about what I was good at, before anything else. So what was I good at? Like many people, I didn't really know. This is where the website helped:

http://www.authentichappiness.org/

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