How happy are you?

(4 minute read)

According to Seligman, how happy we are is somewhat determined by our genes. That is, some of us are simply born happier and more positive than others. This affects our perspective, opportunities and outcomes in life.

If you are curious where you fall on this scale, you can complete the PANAS questionnaire at to discover your own positivity/negativity bias.

Did your results surprise you? Feel free to share in the comments section.

However, Seligman also argues we can learn to become happier, even if we seem to demonstrate few positive emotions. That’s great news for grumpy-bums and those who have to live or work with them!

We’ll discuss the various paths to happiness and wellbeing through these blog posts, so please bear with! While the urge for me to share what I am learning in critical academic tomes is irresistible, I want to ensure these blogs remain as brief(ish) and accessible as possible. I’m thinking my blogs should be enjoyed in the time it takes to sit down and slurp your favourite cuppa. But, I guess that depends on how large and full (or empty!!!) your cup is and how fast you read!

What are the benefits of being happier?

Barbara Fredrickson claims positive affect encourages fresh perspectives and innovation, better social connections and more opportunities to achieve your potential. That’s good enough reason for me!

experiencing positive emotions broadens people’s minds and builds their resourcefulness in ways that help them become more resilient to adversity and effortlessly achieve what they once could only imagine.”

I think we could all benefit from increased resilience, especially in these ‘crazy covid times’.

While I would love to be able to achieve everything effortlessly, Seligman argues it is the things we work hard for that actually give us greater gratification than the fleeting pleasures we don’t have to strive for. He also claims there are three paths or ‘lives’ we must take to attain ‘authentic happiness’:

  1. pleasurable life
  2. good life
  3. meaningful life

Together, these paths bolster our creativity and resilience during hard times and also help us thrive and succeed:

  1. pleasurable life includes increasing the positive feelings and emotions you experience e.g. enjoying happy chatter with friends, watching an uplifting film, playing with a kitten etc.
  2. good life is not about positive emotion, but rather utilising your natural strengths to engage in doing more of what you enjoy; being in the flow and losing track of time.
  3. meaningful life is attained by using your strengths to be of service to something bigger than yourself. It is meaning and purpose, along with the gratification from the good life and pleasurable moments and emotions that encourage long lasting authentic happiness.

You can also participate in more authentic happiness tests which can be found on University of Pennsylvania’s website

What can you do today to live a more pleasurable, good and meaningful life?

May you be happy

May you be healthy

May you be safe

May you be free

May you live with ease


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