Authentic Happiness

“Authentic happiness comes from identifying and cultivating your most fundamental strengths and using them every day in work, love, play and parenting.” Martin Seligman

I have recently finished reading Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman. He is known as the father of positive psychology and has had a dramatic impact on the research into happiness and well-being.


I would highly recommend reading the book. Seligman explains the difference between gratification and pleasures. Pleasures only have a temporary impact on our happiness and are characterised by the feeling of emotions. Sex, chocolate or whatever floats your boat. On the other hand we have gratifications. When experiencing gratification, there is no emotion and we lose our sense of self i.e. we are in flow. When we are in flow, we are mastering something that brings us more lasting happiness.

Seligman also offers an excellent concept of signature strengths which can be determined by the quiz in the book or online at Knowing your signature strengths can greatly improve your quality of life if you are willing to work on them. He speaks of crafting your job around your signature strengths and finding ways to make your work more fulfilling. This is known as ‘job crafting’. Obviously, this has great implications for employers who could benefit from improved productivity and loyalty if jobs were more aligned to each person’s signature strengths.

Noticing and praising the signature strengths of your partner and your children can also make you into a better and happier partner and parent respectively. Of course this leads to healthier relationships and a happier life. My signature strengths are:

  • Industry, diligence, and perseverance
  • Caution, prudence, and discretion
  • Zest, enthusiasm, and energy
  • Hope, optimism, and future-mindedness
  • Love of learning

Hmm, I wonder what the ideal job would be given these attributes. Looking back on my time as a business owner, the perseverance is useful but the prudence maybe not so much. I think the zest would be higher on the list if I were fully recovered but it is still there nonetheless. Does this look like a writer’s profile? One certainly needs the diligence for research and for completing such a daunting task as a book.

I previously spoke about being disheartened about the prospect of being published. On the last day, the course lecturer gave me a booklet on writing non-fiction. The first page of the book cites that non-fiction has a far higher rate of being published than fiction. So I’m feeling more encouraged than I was then. And given my obvious strengths of diligence, focus and determination, I know that I can do it. Someone gets published after all, don’t they?

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I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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