I have some time on my hands. My role was made redundant recently. Bummer hey? But there are always positive sides to any situation. For example, I get to go to Pilates and Yoga during the day! It's nice I tell ya! I go to Quro Health Studios, which are walking distance from my house. The Yoga class last Wednesday was awesome! I can't say I have been to a bad class there, but this one was different. The instructor had prepared the room. It was warm. The lights were turned way down and candles were lit all around the perimeter. Great start. Then the instructor, who I had only known as the Receptionist until this point, conducted the most beautiful, zen and challenging class I have been to. When I complimented her at the end, she said she was leaving soon, to move back to Canada. Bugger.
This person is so lovely and so positive. She seems to get so much joy out of what she does, which is serving people and helping them to have healthier minds and bodies. She obviously loves her job and choice of career. I would say she understands her purpose.
Have you worked with anyone like this? I worked with "Joe" for around 3 years in one of my jobs. He is flat-out the nicest person I have worked for, and with. When I first met Joe I couldn't believe he was that nice. I was always looking for times when he wasn't this nice person (and I don't think that says great things about me). You know, I never saw it. He operated in a tough and political environment and managed to develop the trust and companionship of each of the Senior Executives. He is genuine, nice and optimistic. Even when I was at my most frustrated, he always took the time to listen and help.
Thinking about these two people got me thinking about positive psychology and the "happiness" movement. Have you heard these terms before? They sound a little "pop", a little naff maybe. But is it really? Don't we all want to be happy, and do things that make us happy? That's what understanding your "why" or your purpose is all about.
After one of my Pilates classes last week, I decided to go through each of the 6 or so very large bags of books, folders and papers I had packed up from my work office and do a clean-out. Cleaning out clutter is supposed to make you feel happy. It did feel good to throw away a whole lot of stuff I was keeping "in-case" I ever needed to refer back to it. I never do. Plus I don't really have anywhere to keep it all! During the clean out I found a booklet from a seminar I attended a few years ago, run by Dr Martin Seligman. He is a Psychologist and the founder of Positive Psychology. He is focused on building mental strength and wellness rather than just removing mental illness.
What I really like about Dr Seligman is that his theories are based on strong empirical evidence from rigorous research. He has done a lot of work around understanding and developing your signature strengths, which has excellent application when trying to work out how to be happiest in your career and life. Signature Strengths are things that are inherently part of each of us. By identifying, developing and using these strengths, we can improve our performance and happiness. If you would like to learn a little more, this article has a good summary of Positive Psychology and Signature Strengths.
You can use Dr Seligman's Signature Strengths questionnaire to identify your inherent strengths, then ask yourself the following questions:
- Does your current job allow you to use your signature strengths? If yes, how could you use them more? If no, are there opportunities you can identify to start to use your signature strengths?
- Thinking back to this post on identifying your purpose....does understanding your signature strengths match with what you think your purpose might be? If you are still working out your purpose, does understanding your signature strengths help you move closer to your purpose?
Want to learn a little more from Martin Seligman on positive psychology? Here is the man himself during a TED talk