Authentic Happiness

Andrea Seydel Live Life Happy Book Summary



Introduction

Are you interested in becoming happier and more successful? Are you curious about the science of happiness? Are you interested in learning ways to fulfill his or her full potential?


Did you know that happiness can be learned or cultivated? Did you know that each and everyone has the power to inject real joy into our lives?


Happiness can be lastingly increased: Welcome to Positive Psychology. Psychology for too long has focused on illnesses only. It’s time for a new psychology of happiness and optimal life


Positive Psychology is a new domain in psychology that’s only about 20 years old. In its essence, it’s the study of human well-being. Seligman defines it as the scientific study of positive human functioning and flourishing on multiple levels that include the biological, personal, relational, institutional, cultural, and global dimensions of life.


Authentic Happiness was one of the first books talking about this new science and showing us how we can apply it in our own lives to realize our potential for lasting fulfillment. It shows us why happiness matters, what determines it, and how to create more of it in our lives.


Overview

According to esteemed psychologist and bestselling author Martin Seligman, happiness is not the result of good genes or luck. Real, lasting happiness comes from focusing on one’s strengths rather than weaknesses—and working with them to improve all aspects of one’s life. Seligman shows readers how to identify their highest virtues and use them in ways they haven’t yet considered.

Authentic happiness (2002) provides an overview of Positive Psychology. In the book, Seligman describes the 24 strengths and virtues unique to the human psyche. It seems that each of us has at least five of these attributes and can build on them to identify and develop to our maximum potential.

By incorporating these strengths - kindness, originality, humour, optimism, curiosity, enthusiasm, and generosity - into our everyday lives, he tells us that we can reach new optimism, happiness, and productivity. By accessing the very best in ourselves, we can improve the world around us and achieve new and lasting authentic contentment and joy levels.

THREE MAIN POINTS: 1. Psychology for too long focused on illnesses only. It’s time for a new psychology of happiness and optimal life. 2. We can all increase our level of happiness and satisfaction. 3, A full life considers all pleasures and works to develop our strengths, which we can deploy for the greater good.


HAPPINESS CAN BEE LASTINGLY INCREASED: To explain how to do that, psychology has born a new movement. It’s the “Positive Psychology” that sets out to study happiness, fulfillment, and human potential. “Authentic Happiness” is a positive psychology book and can show how you live at the upper end of your happiness range.

*The key to happiness lies not in changing your genes (which is impossible) or changing your circumstances (which has little impact and is often impractical or downright impossible), but in changing factors under your voluntary control—actions you take and thoughts you think.

*Seligman divides the factors under your voluntary control into three buckets: 1. Variables that improve how we feel about the past. By appreciating the good events in your past and forgiving yourself and others for the bad events, you create feelings of satisfaction, contentment, fulfillment, pride, and serenity. 2. Variables that improve how we feel about the future. By learning to think in more optimistic and hopeful ways, you create feelings of faith, trust, confidence, hope, and optimism. 3. Variables that improve how we feel in the present. By maximizing the satisfaction you get from fleeting pleasures and engaging in flow activities, you create feelings of joy, ecstasy, calm, zest, exuberance, pleasure, and flow.


Key Take-Aways


The 3 Pillars of Positive Psychology

Positive emotions: feelings and sensations

Positive traits: strengths and virtues first and foremost, but also “abilities” such as intelligence and athleticism.

Positive institution: the institutions that support the virtues, which in turn support the emotions. It includes democracy, families, personal freedoms, etc.


24 Positive Psychology Strengths, which can be grouped into six categories: Stop Looking For Shortcut to Happiness. Strengths & Virtues: The Key to Getting More Gratifications in Your Life

1. Wisdom & Knowledge: creativity, curiosity, judgment, love of learning, perspective

2. Courage: bravery, perseverance, honesty, zest

3. Humanity: love, kindness, social intelligence

4. Justice: teamwork, fairness, leadership

5. Temperance: forgiveness, humility, prudence, self-regulation

6. Transcendence: appreciation of beauty & excellence; gratitude; hope; humour; spirituality


Positive Emotions Predict Health, Longevity, Prosociality (& Possibly, Success)

Happier people have better health, live longer, and are more likely to follow healthy habits.

They also tend to be more productive, set higher goals for themselves, and persist longer.

Positive emotions aren’t just good for us, but they also make us better human beings.

When we are happy, we want to engage more with others, lift others, and share our good fortune. And the opposite is true: when we are down, we become more self-focused and selfish.

But feeling positive emotion is essential (…) because it causes much better commerce with the world. Developing more positive emotions in our lives will build friendship, love, better physical health, and greater achievement.


*What determines happiness? The Happiness Formula

H appines = S et range + Circumstance of your life + V (what you control)

S= Set range (We all tend to have an inherited “range” of happiness) 50% of happiness is determined by your genes. C = Circumstances These include fixed aspects of your life, such as your age, gender, ethnicity, income, wealth, where you grew up, and whether you’re married, divorced, widowed, or single. V = What You Can Control The remaining 40% of your happiness is determined by voluntary variables. (Seligman confirms that it’s true that thinking positively and deliberately about your past will affect your feelings and emotions in the present. And the opposite is true: ruminating over negative events will make you feel worse.) In other words, by your behaviour: what you do or don’t do, and how you think about various aspects of life.


The Optimists’ Way: Explanatory Styles

Explanatory styles are self-talk or patterns of thought with which we frame events. Optimists have positive self-explanatory styles, while pessimists have negative self-explanatory styles.

When something terrible happens to people with a negative self-explanatory style, they blame themselves and see no solutions in sight.

When something terrible happens to people with a positive self-explanatory style, they blame the conditions and believe the setback is either temporary or not the world.


Developing Optimism and Hope: The Art of Disputing

We naturally dispute negative opinions when they come from others. The first step is to know your beliefs warrant dispute; the next step is to put disputation into practice.

The author introduces a model that he dubs “ABCDE.” Here’s how it works: Adversity: the model starts whenever you are experiencing or thinking about a negative situation in your life Belief: this is when your usual negative self-talk starts. Consequences: This is what happens when you let the negative thought fester. You can go through it the first time to realize how it affected your disputation: this is when the model kicks in. Here you dispute your initial belief and find alternative explanations. Energization: here, you reflect on how the disputation improved your mood


Disputing Yourself Effectively There are four elements to effective disputation:

1. Evidence:

2. Alternatives: most events have many causes.

3. Implications: If the above two steps are not enough, this one is about “decatastrophizing.” Ask yourself, “OK, so what, what are the implications”?

4. Usefulness: How helpful is this thought? Why dwell on the pain?


Meaning and purpose: Three kinds of lives we can live:

A pleasant life is all about pursuing positive emotions about the present, past, and future.

The good life consists of using your signature strengths as often as possible to obtain authentic happiness and abundant gratification.

The meaningful life adds one more component to the good life: using your signature strengths in the service of something larger than you.

Together, these three can lead us to the full life, which consists of experiencing positive emotions, deriving gratification from our signature strengths, and using them in the service of something larger.


The Key to Greater Happiness

Seligman divides the factors under your voluntary control into three buckets:

1. Variables that improve how we feel about the past. HOW TO: Realize that the past doesn’t determine the future. Deliberately practise gratitude for the good things in your past. Forgive the past.

2. Variables that improve how we feel about the future. HOW TO: Build optimism that consists of recognizing and then disputing pessimistic thoughts. Emotions like faith, optimism and hope are primarily determined by your interpretations and thoughts about the world. Dispute our pessimistic thoughts. Next time you’re facing an adverse event in your life, listen closely to your beliefs, observe their consequences, and, if they’re negative, dispute them vigorously.

3. Variables that improve how we feel in the present. HOW TO: Happiness in the present consists of two things: PLEASURES: These are immediate, short-lived, and sensory experiences. Once the stimulus disappears, the pleasant feelings fade. We become accustomed to pleasures very quickly (this is called “habituation”), requiring bigger doses to deliver the same kick. Common pleasures are sugary foods, video games, watching a movie, or hanging out with friends. GRATIFICATIONS: These are activities that put you in a flow state. Time stops, you are fully immersed in the activity, you are in the zone, and you are free of disturbing thoughts and emotions. Common gratifications are sex, mountain biking, reading a captivating book, or being in a deep conversation with someone. The main difference is that pleasures don’t lead to lasting happiness, while gratifications can create happiness-producing afterglows that last for hours or days. GRATIFICATION TAKES EFFORT BUT OFFERS LASTING HAPPINESS.


Summary

The key to greater happiness lies in toning down the pleasures and getting more gratifications in your life. Your Strengths & Virtues are the Keys to Getting More Gratifications in Your Life!

Seligman’s number one message from this book is: If you want greater happiness, figure out your signature strengths and use them every day in the main realms of your life. VIA Character strengths survey.

*The key to happiness lies not in changing your genes (which is impossible) or changing your circumstances (which has little impact and is often impractical or downright impossible), but in changing factors under your voluntary control—actions you take and thoughts you think.


The Unconventional Book Club

Andrea Seydel

www.andreaseydel.com

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