As a high-achiever, work takes the largest segment of our waking hours. Other than sleep, there is no one activity in our lives that takes more than our work life. That fact tells us that doing work that matters to us, that matches our strengths and our “Why”, will give us greater life satisfaction.
What is work that matters? Work that matters allows you to flourish, to have a life of satisfaction and significance. Work that matters looks different for each of us, based on our strengths, our personality, our values and our experiences. Work that matters is a big component of well-being.
Flourish, a Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, was written by Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology, in 2011. In it, he describes the five essential elements of lasting well-being; Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships (Positive ones), Meaning and Accomplishment/Achievement. They make up the acronym PERMA. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to explore each one. As we come to the end of 2017 and look forward to 2018, we will explore how we have flourished in this year and what it looks like to intentionally Flourish as we start 2018.
This week, we start with Positive Emotions.
Any positive emotion we experience contributes to our well-being. While every moment of every day may not be positive, do you experience positive emotions most of the time? Some of these positive emotions are joy, love, peace, gratitude, satisfaction, hope, curiosity, inspiration and pleasure. These positive emotions allow you to enjoy yourself in the present. It’s a framework for and a result of the next four elements of PERMA.
Even in deep crisis, a healthy person can experience positive emotions at times. That sounds counterintuitive, but in my experience, the positive emotions, being able to see the good while walking through crisis provides hope and the ability to move forward. I understand this from personal experience.
My Experience of Positive Emotions in Crisis
Seventeen years ago, my husband was hit head on by another driver on a two-lane highway near our home. The next few years were times of struggle. That being said, even in those first few days in the ICU, facing surgery after surgery, not knowing whether my husband and the father of my children would live or die, positive emotions sustained us.
I saw the good as people prayed for us, visited us, provided for us in the simplest and most important ways – picking up food and bringing it to us, donating blood, volunteering to take our high school-aged son to golf practice and the homecoming dance. The contributions of so many were beyond imagination. The medical team worked tirelessly to bring my husband back. They never promised what kind of life he would have, but they did their best to help him survive and heal.
The Depth of Joy
Through that extremely challenging time, I learned that positive emotions sustain you in difficult times. I found a new understanding of joy. Some say joy and happiness are the same emotion. I disagree. Happiness is a positive emotion based on good things happening around you. Joy, on the other hand, can be experienced whether you’re experiencing good things or in the midst of crisis. Joy is a mindset of knowing the positive exists, even if you can’t “feel” it right now. Joy is trusting that God is in control, regardless of what’s going on in this moment. Joy is contentment that all is well, even in the midst of the storms of life.
Experiencing Positive Emotions
How do you experience positive emotions in your life? Are there experiences you have regularly that help you experience positive emotions? Can you feel love, joy and peace, regardless of what is going on in your life in any given moment?
If you want more positive emotion in your life, what are some activities you enjoy that you could incorporate into your life more often? No matter our circumstances, experiencing positive emotions will help us persevere to our new place of flourishing.
A Simple Exercise
Here’s a simple exercise that provides more positive emotions in your life:
Practicing Gratitude: For one week, at the end of each day, write down three things you’re grateful for. For each item, explain why you’re grateful for it. Allow yourself 15 minutes each evening to do the exercise.
2018: Your Year to Flourish
Does flourishing sound good to you? What would it look like to flourish in the next year?
In early 2018, I’m hosting the Activate Your Masterpiece Mastermind. It’s for high achievers like you. A group of six to eight leaders will learn and grow together, each contributing their best to the group. The purpose is to help leaders intentionally move into the place where they flourish. Part of that will be developing a mindset that fosters positive emotions.