Psychologists Martin Seligman of U of PA and Christopher Peterson of U of MI tested hundreds of volunteers from focus groups and found the participants reported finding happiness by following these three pathways:

Feeling good  Epicurus, the Greek philosopher born in the 3rd Century, BCE, believed that the purpose of philosophy was to attain peace and freedom from fear and to avoid pain by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends.

Seligman and Peterson endorse this Epicurean model to reach happiness and encourage us to maximize pleasure and minimize pain.

Engaging fully  Another recommended role model is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, an influential Hungarian psychologist now at the University of Chicago.  He’s noted as the world’s leading researcher on positive psychology and for his studies of happiness and creativity.

He’s best known as the architect of flow and for his research and writing on the topic.  He describes flow as a state in which people report achieving the greatest satisfaction, a state in which they are totally immersed in and concentrating on what they are doing.

Doing good  Aristotle advocated eudemonia, or human flourishing,  as a central concept in his ethical and political philosophy.  To attain eudemonia, we must search for meaning outside of ourselves and act in accordance with our virtues.

My Take on the three paths:  Like most advise about living well, it’s simple—but not easy.

Too often we think we’re working toward happiness when all we’re doing is working at a job because it pays well rather than expect to achieve happiness by embracing life choices that have nothing to do with happiness.

from Harvard Medical School  Press Release April 17, 2012  And WikipediA

Coming up:  How to know when you’re in the Flow


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