Leonardo Radomile is an author and political consultant. He is also a regular guest contributor to several news outlets. In this article Radomile continues his discussion on ways to build a fulfilling life in a toxic setting.
Leonardo Radomile notes that for many, particularly those on the hard left, there is a natural cynicism that arises when someone mentions that almost anyone can have a good life and whether you do or not is largely in your control. For them, there are only victims and oppressors, racists and misogynists, and other categories that not only belie the uniqueness of each individual but also disempower the very people they purport to help. But rhetoric is a poor substitute for facts and when we look at the research in this area we see very compelling evidence that almost anyone can build a good life if they are willing to do the work, work that almost anyone can do.
The research in this area is often characterized under the title of “Positive Psychology”. The field was pioneered by Martin Seligman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and former head of the American Psychological Association. He’s obviously someone whose opinions demand respect and a degree of credibility. One of the things that Seligman noticed in his early work was that his profession was focused on treating mental illness rather than improving the quality of life of people that weren’t ill. He also found that simply curing a mental illness did not produce happiness. This sparked his interest in what some call “The Science of Happiness” which has attracted the attention of some of the most well respected researchers in psychology.
Radomile states one of Seligman’s greatest contributions was making the research in this field understandable and usable by anyone. In this regard, a tool that he created is the acronym PERMA which stands for:
- Positive Emotion
- Meaning and Purpose
These are the five building blocks in building a life of meaning and satisfaction. In this series we’re going to do an article on each one of these but let’s take a quick look at them now to introduce you to them.
Positive Emotion is generated by how we look at the events in our lives. Generally, when events occur do we look at them as problems or opportunities. As we’ll see later, positive emotion in most circumstances is a reaction we can train ourselves to generate using different types of techniques such as gratitude exercises. No doubt life has its tragedies and sorrows but when we can train ourselves to look at most events positively a whole host of benefits are generated. First, it removes the stress which harms us both physically and emotionally. Second, it empowers our brains to think creatively for solving problems and making the best of opportunities. Third, it gives us a sense of empowerment and confidence that spills over into other areas of our lives.
Leonardo Radomile states that engagement shows up in two areas of our lives: our work and our relationships. When we’re doing work that we enjoy, something that we are interested in, time flies and we feel a real sense of satisfaction. The same is true in relationships where we give our full attention to someone we care about or someone who is telling us something important to us.
Relationships of every variety are important, not just our intimate relationships, but also friendships and casual relationships, all of which can improve the quality of our lives through the support and positive reinforcement they give us.
Meaning and Purpose are critical as well. Knowing that what we do matters and that we have a strong and rewarding reason for getting up in the morning are two of the most important factors in building a rewarding life full of satisfaction.
Finally, Radomile notes accomplishment really matters in having a good life and that doesn’t mean that you have to move mountains or save the world. It’s paying attention to the things that you accomplish no matter how small they may seem. Doing so gives you a sense of agency, a knowledge that you really can influence the events in your life which is the opposite of powerlessness.
As we’ll see in the following segments as we dive deeper into each one of these elements, you really can build a meaningful life, one that gives you joy and satisfaction, a life that you can be truly proud of. The research is clear that those people who pay attention to each of these elements are happier, healthier, and more successful than those who do not. It takes work, no doubt, just as anything worthwhile does but the most important thing to know is that you can do it and you can start doing it right now.
See you in the next segment.