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A Midlife Assessment Star

May '11

The media is full of reactions to Martin Seligman’s latest book, Flourish. For those of you who are not familiar with this author, years ago, as president of the American Psychological Association, he ushered in a new wave of research focused on learning more about well-being, rather than fixing things that go wrong.

His new book, Flourish follows up on his earlier book, Authentic Happiness, where Seligman outlined research findings on what creates life satisfaction or happiness. He named three core elements: positive emotion, engagement (sense of flow when engaged in an activity) and a larger sense of purpose, or meaning.

With Flourish, he has added two more elements: relationships and a sense of accomplishment to create the acronym of PERMA for folks wanting to flourish in their lives.

I have to admit, I immediately fiddled with the letters of this acronym to create REMAP, because I believe Seligman has presented an elegant model for remapping your life. You can use his five elements of the well-lived life to conduct a star assessment of your own.

Picture a five-pointed star (yes, just like one of those children’s drawings) with one element at each point. Now using a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being totally unsatisfied and 10 being totally satisfied), rate the level of your current level of satisfaction with each element. For example, how would you rate relationships; are they bringing you joy each day? If not, what rating will you give that segment? Or what about engagement, how much of your day is consumed with activities so compelling you lose track of time? How would you rate this segment? Continue in this manner with each segment.

Once you have numbered each star segment to reflect your level of satisfaction with it, you can give your attention to one you would like to improve and brainstorm possible ways to do so. For example, if you select relationships, consider how you might shift your daily interchanges with friends, family and colleagues to improve those relationships. Or how you might add some more kindred spirits to your life. If you selected engagement, maybe you like the idea of heading for the garden after work, or perhaps you could sign up for an Adult Ed course in photography – whatever activities you find engaging.

Then pick one of those approaches you like, turn it into a simple goal for the next month and then head towards it for 30 days. For example, perhaps you intend to enhance your relationships, by focusing on one interchange each day with the intention of making it more worthwhile. Be an experimenter, simply observe what happens; at the end of the month see if you want to continue on this path. What do you have to lose?

If you proceed with this experiment, you know I’d like to learn about it. And so might other folks, who could benefit from your ideas and experience. So do let us hear from you!

Meanwhile, EnJOY!


P.S. If you’d like to learn about a more thorough examination of your life and who you are, contact me for a 30/30 phone consultation.

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