The Science of Well-Being

Have you heard of, or taken a course at Coursera?  I’m in the process of taking my second course with them. It’s called The Science of Well-Being and is taught by a Professor at Yale University.

I know, I know. More classes! I just completed the equivalent of several marathons to obtain my Masters of Environmental Management (MEM) last year. But, I’m a lifelong learner and I am increasingly truly fascinated by the psychology of happiness. Have you noticed your own happiness changing, or perhaps the people around you, or on social media, seeming less happy? I have, and I’m curious why that is, and what we can do individually, or collectively, to change that. Understanding happiness, or lack there of, also helps me in my work-life, relationships in general, and to better understand myself and my own happiness–or my misconceptions of happiness.

During week one of the course we discovered our Signature Strengths and how to boost our own happiness by doing intentional and effortful activities each day based on our top five strengths. Honestly, my top five strengths didn’t surprise me. But the assignment of taking time each day to intentionally focus on a strength, or see how you might stretch to use your strengths, takes awareness and practice. It’s fun! I highly recommend it.

Creativity is one of my top five strengths. My work requires me to be creative daily. But being creative is also a passion and has been my entire life. Literally. I think I was born with paint brushes, a camera, and crayons in my hands. Art and writing were the only things I wanted to do in kindergarten and elementary school. And being able to combine the two wherever I could became my craft.

I have a few reasons for putting this out here. Mostly, I’m curious–one of my top five signature strengths!–about the following:

  • I truly want to know what your strengths are. Have you taken any kind of assessment to see where your strengths are?
  • Do you take time in your daily life to intentionally incorporate signature strength activities, or use them in new ways to keep growing and stretching?
  • Do you, or the people around you, notice a difference in your well-being and personal happiness when you focus on your strengths?
  • Lastly, I’m hoping to share with you what I learn from the course, and put some of that knowledge to practice here.

According to the Signature Strength survey my top strength is Appreciation of Beauty. I’m known to notice the tiniest flowers, markings and unique coloration of insects, unique and stunning colors of eyes, or stop what I’m doing and stand in awe of the sunset–even if appears to look exactly like the one I watched the night before. I also appreciate sincere laughter, kindness and generosity as a form of beauty, and I am equally moved by these actions when I experience them in exchanges, or as a random witness to them.

I’ll leave you with this sunset from a trip to Costa Rica. If you’ve had the good fortune of traveling to Costa Rica you know all your are engaged. Visually it’s stunning and the culture is incredible welcoming and friendly. There’s individual beauty everywhere you turn. Costa Rica brings me a sense of well-being I haven’t experienced in any other place.

What, in particular, do you appreciate for its beauty? Please share! I’d really appreciate hearing from you.

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