This episode is the second in a six-part series in which I take you through six different pathways to happiness, to human flourishing, and with each one I’ll provide you with tools that you can use. This is all based on the current research through a framework called PERMA-V. In today’s episode I’ll teach you all about the E – Engagement – and every other week, when I do a solo episode, I’ll be discussing another one of the 6 pathways. After you listen to each episode, I hope you’ll practice the tools I’m providing so you can apply this to your own life.
Here’s a bit of background to help put all of this in context. In the first episode in this series (Episode 30) I discussed a bit of the history of psychology in the twentieth century and the birth of the field of positive psychology, which stemmed from the recognition that we needed to focus on and learn more about wellness, and not just illness. A key idea in positive psychology is that the absence of illness is not wellness. Just because you don’t have diabetes or cancer doesn’t mean you’re healthy, and just because you haven’t been diagnosed with depression or bipolar disorder doesn’t mean you’re thriving and flourishing. Positive psychology started developing the understanding that, more than the surface happiness, which, while it’s pleasurable, is more fleeting, we should be learning to cultivate a deeper, more fulfilling happiness. I addressed the concept of the hedonic treadmill as part of the reason why the search for more money and a better job doesn’t lead to true, deep, lasting happiness, and what Aristotle called “eudaimonia,” or wellbeing and flourishing.
The field of positive psychology has been studying what it takes to really cultivate our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of others, and a recent theory has laid out 6 pathways to flourishing: PERMA-V.
- Meaning and Purpose
- Accomplishment and Achievement
In today’s episode I discuss Engagement, the idea of being fully IN your life, fully present. I begin with a general introduction to the idea of engagement and how most of us aren’t living engaged in our lives, how we’re rarely truly present, instead ruminating over things that have happened or worrying about the future. I discuss the importance of meditation as a tool to increase our own engagement and ability to be present, and the value of setting intentions, whether it’s for listening to this podcast or for the day ahead. Where your intention is, your attention goes, and being fully engaged means that you control life instead of life controlling you. I also address the importance of willpower and self-discipline to our own happiness, as well as gratitude and savoring.
An important concept tied to engagement is flow. When do you get so involved in something that you lose track of time, maybe you even forget to eat? Researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the term flow as “the optimal human experience.” It’s being engaged with something that requires challenge just at the edge of your comfort zone, so that it gives you deep personal satisfaction, confidence, achievement, and fulfillment. We need to discover what will put us in flow, what will give us this feeling of optimal functioning? The more experiences we have in flow, the happier we are in the other areas of our lives.
Another practice that deepens engagement is doing, living, working from our strengths. When you’re focused on your strengths, you’re happier and more engaged in what you’re doing, and the first of my Purpose Power Tips is learning about our own strengths. For this I recommend using the Values In Action tool, which you can find at https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu. I also provide several additional Purpose Power Tips for increasing your own engagement.
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May you live purposefully, may you love yourself, and may you love life.
Bye for now!