The 3 Paths of LifeNathalie H
According to Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of the positive psychology movement, humans can follow 3 different paths to pursuit happiness.
Path #1 – The Pleasant Life
This path is about the pursuit of pleasure. We aim to experience as many positive emotions as possible. Think of the Hollywood version of happiness and instant gratification. We also look for ways to savor and amplify those experiences. This path is often characterized by an abundance of giggling and laughter. Research says it is 50% heritable and not very modifiable.
FUN is a core value for those in this path.
Path #2 – The Good Life
This path is about the pursuit of engagement. It is related to what Greek philosophers called Eudaimonia. When on this path, our work, love, and play experiences are aligned with our strengths and benefit ourselves. Think Elon Musk, Serena Williams; a life of engagement and flow, when time stops because you’re absorbed in the moment, in what you’re doing.
FLOW is a core value for those in this path.
Path #3 – The Meaningful life
This path is about the pursuit of meaning and it could be defined as the next level of Eudaimonia. We know our signature strengths and we use them in service of something bigger than ourselves. Think Mother Teresa.
ALTRUISM is a core value for those in this path.
You might be asking yourself…
- Which path is the best one?
- Which one are you following today?
- Which path would you like to follow in the future?
I confess, for a long time, I was convinced that Path #3 was the most rewarding, the noblest, and simply the best option.
Earlier this year, I attended a webinar with Anna Glynn (Melbourne based Positive Psychology Thought Leader). She explained the above concepts and asked participants which path was ideal.
Influenced but the Buddhist philosophy which I have been studying for over a decade, I mentally answered, “It is obviously path number #3!”. To my surprise (and initial disappointment), she suggested that all 3 paths or elements have been shown to contribute to a life well-lived. So it is not about one in particular but a combination of all three.
That was a humbling and eye-opener moment for me.
To learn more about this topic:
- Check out Martin Selingman books | Flourish, Authentic Happiness, Learned Optimism, Character Strengths & Virtues.
- Watch Ted Talk with Martin Seligman | The New Era of Positive Psychology – https://www.ted.com/talks/martin_seligman_the_new_era_of_positive_psychology?language=en#t-1960
- Follow Anna Glynn at https://www.annaglynn.com.au/
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