Searching for Purpose and Happiness

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Three of the most common themes and discussions we have with our clients are in the area of their Ultimate Purpose, Success versus Fulfilment and Happiness.

These topics come up regularly because some people find that they are incredibly successful in certain areas of their life, for example career and finances, and yet feel unfulfilled in others such as health and personal relationships.

In delving into this topic further, there is some great wisdom, direction and guidance from the field of positive psychology. Here we see the interrelatedness of these topics, and some practical steps towards finding the harmony that supports us to feel fulfilled and happily achieving in more areas of our life.

Martin Seligman the author of Flourish:, A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being suggests combining 5 Elements to create a life worth living 

  1. Positive Emotions - reframing our thoughts and focusing on areas with a more positive intention

  2. Engagement - immersing ourselves in our activities

  3. Relationships - nurturing and developing quality connections with others 

  4. Connecting with a sense of meaning that comes from serving a purpose larger than yourself

  5. Focusing on accomplishments - both short term and long term that both reward us regularly and have us working, and stretching us to keep growing


When these 5 areas are incorporated together, Seligman believes they help us achieve something greater than momentary or overall happiness. He suggests that they ultimately help us achieve an outcome that he refers to as Well-being


Another author in this field, Jonathan Haidt author of the Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, has a slightly different perspective. He argues that purpose and happiness are not necessarily found in positive emotions of momentary happiness. Or by focusing only on the happy memories of overall happiness. He suggests that the following 3 elements be considered

  1. Develop the “right” relationship between yourself and others

  2. Nurture and develop the relationship between yourself and meaningful work

  3. Connect and invest yourself in an activity or a cause that is larger than yourself


Haidt suggests that once you have done this, it will ultimately allow a sense of purpose and meaning to emerge which may lead to the most genuine form of happiness available to you.

Researcher of positive psychology, Jordi Quoidbach P.H.D, after interviewing 37,000 people in 2014 introduced the concept of Emodiversity

Emodiverstiy is defined as experiencing a wide range range of emotions. This means that we allow ourselves to feel the full range of emotions that are experienced in life. This would apply to both positive or painful emotions and the idea being to experience the full range without trying to suppress anything. In his study, Haidt found that greater levels of emodiversity predicted higher overall levels of health and well-being.

So here is a summary of the above.  We can use this as a  guide to assist us succeed, feel fulfilled, and feel a greater level of happiness.

  1. Finding activities, careers and endeavours that are meaningful to us.

  2. Fully Immersing ourselves in these meaningful areas.

  3. Nurturing quality connections and relationships with others.

  4. Allowing ourselves to experience a full range of emotions and not suppressing emotions that are uncomfortable.

  5. Finding a healthy process or strategy to deal with these emotions that are painful or uncomfortable will improve our health, wellbeing and happiness.

  6. Avoid suppressing any one emotion,  because in doing this you are numbing yourself to all the possible emotions.


References: 

 1. Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being

Author Martin Seligman

2. The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

Author Jonathan Haidt 

3. Jordi Quoidbach P.H.D https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25285428


Blog by Jim Karagiannis