Over the past handful of years, I have been talking and reveling a lot about the science of happiness, and my happiness from having learned that science through courses at Yale and Berkeley online. I do this enough that there’s even a header menu choice for “happiness” on my blog, even though there’s not a huge number of posts under it. That’s how much I value trying to catch people’s attention with it to share it with them! For all of its value and my intent, though, I find that talking about the science and pursuit of happiness in life occasionally rubs people the wrong way, or lead them to think I’m really misguided since I’d never be happy if I’m always chasing something I can’t get, right? Yes, except that I’m really working to maintain as much of something as I can, though that wasn’t quite right, either. I am not trying to be ecstatic or even perky sort of happy throughout most of my days, which is not what the courses taught, either. I am just pursuing a general feeling of bliss throughout as much for as many of my days as possible, and minimizing stresses and/or things that get me down, stressful or not. But how to properly explain that? Well, recently, the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley which had taught me the Science of Happiness course came to the rescue. Contentment, was the word I was seeking and meaning to use, not happiness, and it makes a huge world of difference!
From the habits of Leonardo da Vinci, I try to come up with three things to be curious about each morning to cultivate my curiosity that is one of my Signature Strengths, of which using it helps keep me happy and alive in life. This morning, I came up with this question
When one is not wearing sleeves, where does the English language think one should wear one’s heart?
It references the English idiom about wearing your heart on your sleeve, meaning showing your intimate emotions in an honest and open manner. It references a common element in garments, which is the sleeve, but is not always found in a garment worn as a top, to which I then ask the equivalent of what if that element wasn’t there? What then?
Anybody want to suggest something? Preferably with a case for your answer? 🙂
The Science of Well-being course had an optional rewirement assignment of using one’s Signature Strengths each day for the week. From my identification and analysis of MY Signature Strengths, along with notes on how to boost these strengths, and a little time to think about how I’d go about it, here’s my report on what I did.
Growing up as an ethnic minority person, it was easy for others to point to my weaknesses, or just a relevant one, to support some claim or thought they had that I was inferior. Sometimes it felt as if whatever they pointed out, to them, was either the only thing that mattered, or mattered so much it should be the only thing that mattered, or as if nobody else had a weakness, or that particular weakness. I also didn’t like the idea of having very visible, obvious and/or very weak weaknesses. I might have even bought into the mentality of those who isolated my weaknesses in thinking I were like a chain, where I’d only be as strong as my weakest link… though I thought they were, too! 😉
In the Science of Well-being course on Coursera, Professor Laurie Santos referenced a small study in 2012 called When the Job is a Calling, by Harzer & Ruch, that suggested those happiest at their jobs (in the sense of considering it a calling) were those who used 4 (up to 7) of their Signature Strengths (Top 5 or 7 Character Strengths). There were only 111 participants in that survey, which is hardly enough to be convincing for most people, even if the statistical derivations show there is “statistically significant” difference (i.e. on the graph, the thin vertical lines on the dot relating to 4 on the horizontal axis does not overlap those of dots for 3 or smaller). The mind just doesn’t buy into the math at some point, and just 111 participants is way below that point for me. Why they only had 111 participants is not known but I’d never publish anything with just that few numbers if it were only a matter of taking a survey rather than having to do heart surgeries!