This link has been all over social media recently. My Facebook friends post it and vow to increase the happiness in their lives.
So, I read the article. All of the other kids were doing it.
Intrigued, I traced the ideas back to Dr. Martin Seligman’s TED talk. All roads lead to TED talks here, it seems. While his ideas aren’t particularly groundbreaking – humanistic psychology has been around since the mid-1900’s, they are very motivating. He is the quintessential professor. There’s something about his voice that makes you believe and re-evaluate your circumstance. I’d bet my shoe collection that every person who listened to this talk made a not-New Year’s resolution to bring more meaning and engagement into their daily activities. I did.
After being inspired by his talk, I went to his website to find my strengths. The results of the VIA Survey of Character Strengths showed that I have:
- Curiosity and interest in the world
- Appreciation of beauty and excellence
- Love of learning
- Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
- Perspective (wisdom)
- Zest, enthusiasm, and energy
The test is very introspective and requires thorough self-analysis. These results confirm my difficult decision to switch from cell biology to education. Thank you, Dr. Seligman. The lab environment was not the best for me. I am much happier, and now I know why. I’d like to use these results on all job applications and interviews – and whenever somebody says “You must be crazy to switch from science to education!”
I’d like to know more about the pursuit of pleasure. How is this aspect of happiness 50% heritable? My mother did not like whipped cream and cherries, and I definitely do (see 19:45). The geneticist in me is scratching her head. I am skeptical that an affective trait, “meta” by definition, would depend on genes. Does he mean that half of our pursuit of pleasure is determined by our upbringing? I’d buy that if it went on sale.
My last critique is trivial: What is with the stage clutter? I’m thinking that this was the practice talk. He blew it out of the park, so they used it. Color me impressed.