One of my goals as an adult is to spend as much of my time as possible feeling good in my skin. Most of the folks who come to see me in therapy share a similar goal. Though it is often easier said than done, there is actually a wealth of research out there to help us feel happy, fulfilled, and generally better about ourselves. Toward this end, Fig & Birch is intended to give practical application to many of the new trends and research findings in the fields of psychology and wellness to help readers flourish across all domains of their lives.
Martin Seligman is a researcher and author who I have always respected. He is the father of the field of Positive Psychology and his book Flourish (Free Press, 2011), struck me as a useful tool to concretize steps one can take to begin to transform their life to one that best matches their vision. Over the next few weeks, I will pull out some key concepts from his theory and explore some ways we could all apply them to our lives. For anyone interested (or too excited to wait), this book is a wonderful resource with numerous exercises and applications of theory – so if you are so inclined I encourage you to buy it and read it for yourself.
In a nutshell, Seligman proposes that well being (which is our ultimate goal as humans) is comprised of 5 elements: 1. Positive emotion; 2. Engagement; 3. Meaning; 4. Accomplishment; 5. Positive relationships. Each of these areas can be cultivated and honed by proactive choices. Indeed, Seligman’s research has demonstrated that, with agency, we can increase our own well being in a meaningful and sustainable way. My plan is to use the next couple of weeks dig into each of these domains.
The hecticness and indulgence of the holidays often culminates in grand plans for how next year will be much different (manifest in New Year’s Resolutions which, sadly, according to Forbes, only 8% of us will actually achieve). So I thought this was good timing to help us frame our goal setting – this will help use embark on 2015 with a clarity of what proactive steps we want to take.
The first step, if our goal is to flourish, is to identify what we need to strive for to make this so. Well, there are lots of interesting elements for us to explore, but according to Seligman, it all starts with identifying what makes you really happy? (I know this sounds a little like pop-psych, but stay with me, it turns out it is a really relevant question.) Do you know the answer for you? If yes, what proportion of your waking hours do you spend engaging in or pursuing the key to your happiness? What is one specific thing you could do every day to amplify it?