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Ways to happiness and life satisfaction

On April 9 I wrote "On the fine Authentic Happiness website, Seligman and colleagues discuss three entwining roads to happiness and what they call "the full life". One of these three roads is maximising and appreciating positive emotions - very much the territory of savouring." Do visit the Authentic Happiness site. It's great. They ask you to log in, but this is a quick procedure. If you're interested in the three roads to happiness ideas, try taking the "Approaches to Happiness Questionnaire". I completed it first in August '06 and then took it again in May of last year. I score highly on what they call the "Good or Engaging Life" and the "Meaningful Life", but fairly low on the "Pleasant Life".

At the head of the report the website provides on one's scores, they wrote "Higher scores on the Engaging Life (knowing what your signature strengths are, and then recrafting your work, love, friendship, leisure and parenting to use those strengths to have more flow in life) and the Meaningful Life (using your signature strengths in the service of something that you believe is larger than you are) have been shown to lead to greater satisfaction with life. Higher scores on the Pleasant Life (having as many pleasures as possible and having the savoring and mindfulness skills to amplify the pleasures) don't add to satisfaction. To measure your satisfaction, use the Satisfaction with Life Scale." Diener et al's Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) is also given on the Authentic Happiness site and you can find out more about it by visiting the SWLS web page (see below).

As far as I can see, this is an over-statement of current data. In their 2005 research paper "Orientations to happiness and life satisfaction: the full versus the empty life" (Peterson, Park et al. 2005), the authors found each of the three orientations predicted life satisfaction. They wrote "Considered individually, each of the orientations to happiness predicted life satisfaction, from small (pleasure) to moderate (engagement, meaning) degrees." So to really boost your life satisfaction, optimising "meaning" and "engagement" seem particularly important, but savouring and the "Pleasant Life" are worthwhile too.

Martin Seligman's "Authentic Happiness" website. http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.aspx Accessed April 11, 2008.
"Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS)". http://s.psych.uiuc.edu/~ediener/hottopic/hottopic.html Accessed April 11, 2008.
Peterson, C., N. Park, et al. (2005). "Orientations to happiness and life satisfaction: the full life versus the empty life." Journal of Happiness Studies 6(1): 25-41. [Abstract/Full Text]

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