At the recent World Congress of the International Positive Psychology Association, Ed Diener, psychologist extraordinaire, said the number one predictor of enjoyment in life is reflected by the ability to say: “I learned a new thing and I used my abilities today.”
By “enjoyment in life,” Diener is referring to subjective well being (SWB). SWB is a combination of positive emotion, negative emotion and overall satisfaction with life. As you might expect, more positives, fewer negatives and a good amount of satisfaction lead to a high score in SWB. How do you score yourself? How can you crank it up a notch?
On the learning side, we may learn something about the world by reading the newspaper or a novel. We may learn something new from a film, a conversation or an article on the internet.
With respect to using abilities, you may use some of your abilities, or strengths, at work (e.g., determination, creativity, zest), and perhaps other abilities with your friends, partner or kids (e.g., lovingness, problem solving, patience).
There are lots of ways to tweak learning and to use your abilities. Often we combine both. If you decide to take a class in French cooking, you’re learning and you may be using your strengths in courage and creativity. If you set a goal of learning one new fact about the world daily, you may also be using your strength in intellectual curiosity and open-mindedness.
My challenge: notice daily whether you are learning and using abilities. If you aren’t, crank it up a notch. If you are, crank it up a notch anyway. Then see whether you feel a greater sense of enjoyment and confidence, and maybe even courage.
Music to crank it up a notch: I Feel Good, James Brown