John Tierney explores why Martin Seligman, the author of “Authentic Happiness,” now regrets that title. It appears that happiness is not the only criteria to living a good life.
Now, Seligman sees “accomplishment” as another highly desirable criteria that contributes to well-being or flourishing, which is why he titled his new book, “Flourish.” The five elements he considers necessary to flourish are: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment.
These fit remarkably well with the principles of Live Conscious. We use somewhat different language, but our point is similar. We focus on creating healthy emotional footprints, living lives in which we renew ourselves, nurturing our relationships, wisely using our personal energy, and continuously growing.
To Seligman’s credit, he is now encouraging people to look beyond how they’re feeling in the moment and look at their lives overall. From the point of view of Live Conscious, this deeper inquiry leads to deeper satisfaction and more meaningful lives—which is truly what leads to lasting satisfaction.
Such satisfaction comes from feeling that we are accomplishing something worthwhile and that we have created sustainable loving relationships with the people who matter the most to us. In both cases—accomplishing something worthwhile and creating meaningful relationships—there is a quality of giving, not just taking. This stimulates deeper satisfaction than the temporary pleasures that come and are forgotten.
The article ends with a quote from Seligman’s new book, “One’s job as a therapist is not to change what people value, but given what they value, to make them better at it.” I understand his point, but don’t really agree. I believe that part of good therapy is helping people become more mature, develop wisdom, and deepen themselves. As they do this, their values change as a result of the therapy. Their values change in that they seek deeper satisfaction in what they do and how they relate with those they love.