Marcus Buckingham, leading expert in personal strengths and best selling author has an interesting article in ‘The Huffington Post on the findings of his recent study ‘What The Happiest And Most Successful Women Do Differently’
you know better than anyone whether you’re happy. You know whether you feel you’re living the life you were supposed to live. So, to those of you reading this and thinking “I can be happier. I want to be happier in my life,” here’s the prescription. Here’s what you can do to find your strongest life.
But first he recommends to self-diagnose the kind of life you’re living by trying these questions on yourself:
1. How often do you get to do things you really like to do?
2. How often do you find yourself actively looking forward to the day ahead?
3. How often do you get so involved in what you’re doing you lose track of time?
4. How often do you feel invigorated at the end of a long, busy day?
5. How often do you feel an emotional high in your life?
And what did he find in his study?. He says,
Martha Washington, the first first lady, said that, “The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our disposition and not on our circumstances.” Our research certainly confirmed this. The women who could answer positively to the questions above had, on some level, simply decided that they were going to be happy. They made that choice.
He adds, …” However, more specifically, women:
- Focus on moments more than goals, plans or dreams: Certain moments in your life create in you strongly positive emotions–let’s call these “strong-moments.” Not all moments are strong-moments–some moments spark negative emotions, while some don’t spark any emotions at all. But when you do experience a strong-moment, it is authentic. It is true, in the sense that the emotions you feel are true. You may not know exactly what you should do with your emotions, or what label you should give each emotion, but you know how a specific moment made you feel. You know this more certainly than you know virtually anything else in your life. …..When you commit your life to being true to yourself, you are not committing to some far-flung destiny, some grand dream, or some disembodied list of values, no matter how worthy. Instead you are committing to the truth embodied in this strong moment, the truth that this specific moment, for no rational reason, energizes you.
- Accept what they find:….Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation, giving up on your dreams. In fact, more often than not, accepting which moments strengthen you and which don’t reveals to you exactly how you can live out your dreams, whether at home or at work. It means not only being comfortable in your own skin, but also being creative in your own skin.
- Strive for imbalance:…They seemed to realize that not only was a perfect equilibrium nigh on impossible to achieve, but also that even if they did manage to achieve it, it wouldn’t necessarily fulfill them anyway–when you are balanced, you are stationary, holding your breath, trying not to let any sudden twitch or jerk pull you too far one way or the other. You are at a standstill. Balance is the wrong life goal. Instead, do as these women did, and strive for imbalance. Pinpoint the strong-moments in each aspect of your life and then gradually target or tilt your life toward them. This means being as deliberate as you can about making them happen. It means investigating them when they do happen, looking at them from new perspectives, and celebrating them. Above all, it means giving them the power of your attention.
- Learn to say ‘Yes’: So often you are told: “You must learn to say ‘No.'” But, to live your strongest life, do the opposite. Learn to say, “Yes.” Yes, to the strong-moments in each part of your life. Yes, to the people who help you create these moments. Yes, to your feelings as these moments happen. Say “Yes” with enough focus and force, and yours will not be a balanced life, but it will be a full life.
Marcus goes on to recommend the Strong Life Test: Think of it as an internal compass. It measures you on nine life roles– Advisor, Caretaker, Creator, Equalizer, Influencer, Motivator, Pioneer, Teacher, and Weaver. More than likely, your life calls on you to play all nine roles some of the time, but, even so, you are not a blank slate–your personality doesn’t shift and morph according to the demands of every unique situation. Instead, as we all do, you have some consistent patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving, patterns that are distinctive and that remain stable across time and situations. These patterns come together in a Lead Role, a role you return to time and again, a role that you and your closest family and friends recognize as the core of who you are. Your Lead Role will help you to know where to look, in any domain of your life (as a spouse, relative, mother, or employee), for the kind of moments that will strengthen you the most, invigorate you the most, bring you joy, excitement, and fun. The Strong Life Test doesn’t give you all the answers, but it tells you where to start.
My 2 cents: I think all of the above strongly applies to men too because I do see/hear about a lot of men, at least in the West, taking on multiple roles at home and in life. I also think that ‘Striving for imbalance and learning to say ‘yes’ are certainly a ‘thunk’ on my head! Not sure how much more crazy my life would become if I tried these, but I am game. Finally, I would end with my strong belief…