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The Meat of the Subject - Livin' the Good Life

Jan. 18th, 2008

05:05 pm - The Meat of the Subject

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The book AUTHENTIC HAPPINESS by Martin Seligman, has some VERY interesting conclusions about what causes happiness. This is a scientific kind of a book with all kinds of research, statistics, and tests, so the reading can be a little tedious. But, it's worth wading through all the science to get to the meat of the subject. Here are some tidbits I've gathered so far: Once people have their basic survival needs met, their happiness is not determined by income, objective health, amount of education, race or geographical place of residence (like a sunnier climate). What one CAN do to influence their happiness is: 1. Live in a wealthy democracy (not an impoverished dictatorship) 2. Get married 3. Avoid negative events and negative emotion 4. Acquire a rich social network 5. Get religion. Number three is of particular interest to me. It's fairly easy to avoid negative events... I just don't participate in "drama". But, avoiding negative emotion, is that under my control? It brings up the controversial question: Which comes first, thought or emotion? The law of attraction says that thought comes first. Some schools of psychology say that emotion comes first (like Freud). My viewpoint is, if I can avoid negative emotions by thinking positive thoughts, then why not? If I thought I was governed by my feelings, I would think I was a victim. I don't want to go there. I took all kinds of tests in the book and I came out to be "a very positive person". And the reason is, that I perceive myself that way. I think of myself as usually trying my best, usually meaning well, usually expecting good things to happen, and usually seeing the best in others. I view my body as always improving, even when I have disturbing symptoms. I view myself as always learning, even though I make a lot of mistakes. I see myself as happily married, even though I frequently feel frustrated with Steve. The key seems to be, HOW YOU PERCEIVE the events and experiences in your life, not what those experiences are. I will continue with this thread in my next post, because there is a very interesting and important idea that I want to go into. But, right now, Steve and I are going out on a date.