Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Have you seen the 1986 movie Back To School with Rodney Dangerfield? I will not give the plot away but the premise is to help his discouraged son get through college, a fun-loving and obnoxious rich businessman decides to enter the school as a student himself. Well, I am fun-loving, I am businessman, although not rich, or hopefully not obnoxious, I do have two kids in college, and I am heading back to school. After a thirty-two year hiatus, I am enrolled at the University of Missouri pursuing a Masters In Education with an emphasis on Positive Coaching. First topic, Positive Psychology, which is the study of happiness and well-being.

We use the word “happiness” so much that it has become somewhat meaningless. We can find happiness in a sunny day, a meal, a book, a feeling….in other words happiness is a thing. Instead, I want to challenge you to think about well-being. While happiness is a thing, well-being is a construct, a gathering of multiple things. You can say that you are happy about the weather (thing) but weather is more than just the temperature; weather includes temperature, wind speed, barometric pressure, humidity, etc.

There is so much information and research on what makes us happy or things that can make us happier. The list includes but is not limited to: do things for others, connect with people, exercise, notice the world around you, keep learning, have goals, fighting through adversity, positive outlook, be comfortable with who you are, and be a part of something bigger.

For the sake of simplicity, true happiness and possibly leading to well-being, can be found by using your strengths in service of a greater cause. As a starting point, one must know their individual strengths. Each of us has been uniquely crafted, uniquely gifted, trying to mimic someone else is a dis-service to our creator. Ask 100 people to name their top five strengths, a large percentage can not name three strengths, while others may not be able to clearly articulate a strength. What are your strengths? It is ok to not know but entirely different not to want to know. Click here is a free character strength assessment tool. There is no charge, the survey takes about 20 minutes to complete.

Two eagles are sitting in one nest on one edge of a cliff, there is a second nest that is entirely empty on the other side of the ledge. One eagle decides to fly to the empty nest. How many eagles are in each nest? Two and zero, making a decision to fly and actually taking the action to fly are two entirely different things. Make the decision to take the assessment and actually take the assessment. Next week will be an assignment based off your strength assessment results.