Sunday, May 22, 2011

Happiness vs. well-being

The other day the New York Times had an article about Martin Seligman's latest research. I've been a Seligman fan ever since reading Learned Optimism a decade or more ago. In his latest round of inquiry he has explored the idea that happiness isn't everything, that it takes more than that to achieve a sense of well-being in one's life. Well, yeah. Here are the five things Seligman posits we must have:

  • positive emotion
  • engagement (the feeling of being lost in a task)
  • relationships
  • meaning
  • accomplishment
All that makes sense, no?

Now re-cast the list from the perspective of parenting. Which of these five things are we encouraging in our children, which need a boost, and which (if any) do we ignore? 

Are we cultivating positive emotions -- joy, contentment, a sense of peace -- or catering to pleasure?

Are we nourishing our kids' passions enough so that they know what it means to get lost in a task?

Where does the meaning come from in our children's lives? Where should it be coming from?

How often do our children work hard enough to have a sense of real accomplishment?

It's good stuff to ponder.


1 comment:

  1. This IS good stuff.

    Did you get my card? I want to make sure you did, only reason for asking. I'd hate to think you'd gotten it and it never arrives. Mail is unpredictable.