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Authentic Happiness

Updated: Jan 26

You have heard me speak to happiness on TikTok and other Social Media Platforms.

Here Are My Notes from Authentic Happiness

Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D.

Free Press 2002


Positive Psychology has three pillars. First is the study of positive emotions. Second is the study of positive traits, foremost among them strengths and virtues, but also abilities such as intelligence and athleticism. The third is the study of positive institutions, such as democracy, strong families, and free inquiry, that support virtues, which in turn support positive emotions.


The Happiness Formula: H=S+C+V.


H is Enduring Level of Happiness. Momentary happiness can easily be increased by any number of uplifts, such as chocolate, a comedy film, a back rub, a compliment, flowers, a

new car, a new blouse. The challenge is to raise your enduring level of happiness.

S is the Set Range. Roughly half of your score on happiness tests is accounted for by the score your biological parents would have gotten had they taken the test. This may mean that we inherit a genetically based steersman who urges us toward a specific level of happiness or sadness.


C is Circumstances. You can change your circumstances for the better. However, changing your circumstances usually is impractical, time-consuming, and gradual. Circumstances include discretionary money, marriage, an active social life, physical health, religious commitment, level of education, the climate of your region of the country, your race, and gender.


V is a Voluntary Variables. You can live in the uppermost reaches of your Set Range for Enduring Level of Happiness by working on the Voluntary Variable!


Positive emotion can be about the past, the present, the future. The positive emotions about the future include optimism, hope, faith, and trust. Those about the present include joy, ecstasy, calm, zest, ebullience, pleasure and-most importantly-flow. The positive emotions about the past include satisfaction, contentment, fulfillment, pride, and serenity.


Regarding your past, remember that the major traumas of childhood may have some influence on adult personality, but only a barely detectable one. Bad childhood events do not mandate adult troubles.

Insufficient appreciation and savoring of the good events in your past and over-emphasis of the bad ones are two culprits that undermine contentment and satisfaction. There are two ways of bringing the feelings about the past into the region of contentment and satisfaction.


First, gratitude amplifies the savoring and appreciation of past good events. Second, forgiveness rewrites history by diminishing the power of the bad events to embitter.


Positive emotions about the future include faith, trust, confidence, hope, and optimism. Optimism and hope cause better resistance to depression and anxiety, better performance at work, more successful loving of others, and better physical health.


Recognizing and disputing pessimistic thoughts increases optimism and hope and confidence. Once you recognize that you have a pessimistic thought that appears unwarranted, argue against it using the ABCDE model:


A Stands for adversity


B for the beliefs you automatically have


C for the consequences of B


D for the disputation of your beliefs or your cognitive distortions


E for the energization of thinking, feeling and behaving


In disputation of your beliefs based on your characteristic cognitive distortions, beware of some of the most common ones: all or nothing thinking, focusing on the negative detail, ignoring the positive detail, mind reading, fortune telling, catastrophizing, should statements, emotional reasoning, labeling, and personalization.


There are four ways to make your disputations convincing. Evidence-showing that a negative belief is factually incorrect-is the most convincing method of disputation. Second, alternative explanations are often positive. Third, questioning the implications is helpful through the use of decatastrophizing. Fourth, questioning the usefulness of a belief may be a practical and powerful way to dispute unhelpful, destructive beliefs.


Happiness in the present moment consists of pleasures and gratifications. The pleasures are delights that have clear sensory and strong emotional components, such as thrills, exuberance, comfort, and orgasm. The gratifications last longer than the pleasures, and, most importantly, they come to us by our use of our strengths and virtues.


The term “flow" has been used to describe the subjective or internal experience that accompanies the gratifications, although “flow” is not present at all times. Important characteristics of flow include a challenge requiring skill, clear goals, deep involvement, a sense of control, less of a sense of self, and a sense of time.


Gratification requires a challenge that makes use of your strengths. Authentic happiness comes with the frequent use of your signature strengths. Those that make you unique.


You can nurture and make use of these strengths frequently and consciously. Some are listed below.



1.Curiosity/Interest in the World. Curiosity about the world entails openness to experience and flexibility about matters that do not fit one's preconceptions.


Curious people do not simply tolerate ambiguity; they like it and are intrigued by it.

2.Love of Learning. You love learning new things, whether you are in a class or on your own. You likely loved school, museums, and reading.


3.Judgment/Critical Thinking/Open-Mindedness. Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You rely on solid evidence to make decisions, but you can change your mind. Good judgment involves the sifting of information objectively and rationally, in the service of good for self and others. It embodies reality orientation and is the opposite of the errors in logic or cognitive distortions.


4.Ingenuity/Originality/Practical Intelligence/Street Smarts. This strength includes creativity, but not just limited to fine arts.


5.Social Intelligence/Personal Intelligence/Emotional Intelligence. You are aware of the motives and feelings of others, and you can respond well to them. Social intelligence is the ability to notice differences among others, especially concerning their moods and motivations. Personal intelligence consists of finely tuned access to your feelings and the ability to use that knowledge to understand and guide your behavior.


6.Perspective.This is the most mature strength and the one closest to wisdom. You have a way of looking at the world that makes sense to others and yourself.


7.Valor and Bravery. The brave person can uncouple the emotional and behavioral components of fear, resisting the behavioral response of flight and facing the feared situation, despite the discomfort produced by subjective and physical reactions. Valor includes physical courage, moral courage, and psychological courage. Moral courage is taking stands that you know are unpopular and likely to bring you an ill-fortune. Psychological courage includes the stoic and even cheerful stance needed to face serious ordeals and persistent illness without the loss of dignity.


8. Perseverance/Industry/Diligence. You finish what you start. The industrious a person takes on difficult projects and finishes them with good cheer.


9.Integrity/Genuineness/Honesty. You are an honest person, not only by speaking the truth but by living your life genuinely and authentically. You represent yourself-your intentions and commitments-in a sincere fashion whether by word or by deed.


10.Kindness and Generosity. You enjoy doing good deeds for others, even if you do not know them well. Empathy and sympathy are components of this strength.


11.Loving and Allowing Oneself to be Loved. You value close and intimate relations with others.


For more information, visit Dr. Seligman's website:

https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/faculty-profile/profile-dr-martin-seligman

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