Seligman model for happiness

In Dan Pink’s A Whole New Mind chapter on finding meaning in life, he shares a model for happiness originated by Martin Seligman Ph.D. Since Pink was paraphrasing Seligman and I’m paraphrasing him, this might be an inadequate summary of Mr. Seligman’s work. Alas, we proceed.

A baseline for happiness is what Pink called the Pleasant Life. Then, a step up from that is the Good Life. A Step up from the Good Life is the Pursuit of Meaning. It’s sort of like a pyramid starting with Pleasant Life at the base.

The Pleasant Life

  • Engaging in satisfying work
  • Avoiding negative events and emotions
  • Having a good marriage
  • Having a rich social network
  • Practicing gratitude, forgiveness, and optimism

The Good Life

  • The Pleasant Life, plus:
  • Use your “signature strengths” to achieve gratification in all areas
  • Turn your work into a calling, meaning it’s done for its own sake – you would do it for free.
  • A good test for this is Jim Collins’ 20/10 test:
    1. If you inherited $20m right now, would you spend your days the same way you spend them now?
    2. If you knew that you had only 10 years left to live, would you stick with your current job or career?

Pursuit of Meaning

Knowing your strengths and deploying them in service of something larger than you.

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