Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Authentic Happiness

So this one summer I worked for Marty Seligman, author of (among others) Authentic Happiness. He basically invented Positive Psychology, was president of the American Psych Association, and is kind of a big deal in those circles. I basically was a grunt-girl, doing nothing much at all, as I literally was there less than 10 hours a week and worked mostly at another place. Now the irony for me was that I always found him to be... not happy. And downright mean for most of my (albeit limited) interactions with him. And whatever, it's only my impression of him, maybe he's totally happy and really friendly and I just have a skewed sample of him, but it's an interesting irony nonetheless.

Anyhow, a friend was reading his book and giving me some of the personality/happiness/depression surveys in the book when we were riding on a train the other day. But the big one is his VIA Signature Strength Survey, which is 240 (short) questions to assess your "strengths" across 24 different strengths. So I took the expanded online version, because I was curious. Don't let the 240 questions thing fool you, they're short, like "I never quit a task before it is done" or "I always keep my promises" and you rate on a scale to what degree that does or doesn't apply to you. So it doesn't take a long time (like 20 minutes). But the results are pretty interesting. My top strength is:
Spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith
You have strong and coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe. You know where you fit in the larger scheme. Your beliefs shape your actions and are a source of comfort to you.

Rounding out my top 5 are:
Love of learning
You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.
You are aware of the good things that happen to you, and you never take them for granted. Your friends and family members know that you are a grateful person because you always take the time to express your thanks.
Zest, enthusiasm, and energy
Regardless of what you do, you approach it with excitement and energy. You never do anything halfway or halfheartedly. For you, life is an adventure.
Curiosity and interest in the world
You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.

Pretty interesting, at the very least, and pretty accurate at best. Go to the website and take this or any of the myriad of similar tests. Anyone can sign up for an account and take the tests (I'm sure they want to add your data to their studies, too), and hey, what's more fun (and entirely unique to Americans) than taking self-assessment surveys to find out more about what makes you tick?

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