3 F’s of Happiness

 

Would you like a formula for happiness? Here’s my favorite, and it’s scientifically accepted.

   Fun  + Flow + Fulfillment =  Happiness

These are 3 “F” words worth repeating. They were gathered together by Martin Seligman, Ph.D., the father of positive psychology. Seligman is a world-renown psychologist, professor and author at the University of Pennsylvania. As president of the American Psychological Association in 1998, he encouraged researchers to focus their work on the field of positive psychology, which motivated thousands of scientists to research the following key questions:

  • What works?
  • How and why does it work?
  • How can we create more of it in our lives and organizations?

Of particular interest to positive psychologists is the topic of happiness, which brings us back to Seligman and the 3 F’s. Seligman’s work revealed that happiness is a result of the 3 F’s. (The concepts are Seligman’s, the 3 F’s title is mine.)

Fun, Flow and Fulfillment

1. Fun

This one is easy to describe.

  • The stuff that makes us laugh and smile or jump for joy
  • The stuff we spent lots of time doing as kids, and considered to be a normal part of our day
  • The stuff we now watch our kids, and sometimes other folks enjoying

I think that physical fun, is an important part of the mix. Dancing like Elaine on “Seinfeld“; running like Phoebe on “Friends“; playing games or rough-housing with the kids or grand kids; and hitting a ball over the net, across the field, or in the hole without caring too much about how it gets there are great ways to relax and to have fun. Sports are a wonderful stress reliever, and can be fun, but if we approach them too seriously, they may end-up being about winning or precision, which may not be as much fun. Make sure what you are calling “fun”, really is!

2. Flow

For this concept I need to give a shout out to Dr. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, (MEE-hy CHEEK-sent-mə-HY-ee). Mihály is a Hungarian psychology professor, researcher and author, and is a leader in the field of completely focused motivation, i.e. flow. Flow is that suspension-of-time feeling we have when we are deeply, maybe even blissfully, engrossed in what we are doing. For flow to occur the following must be in place:

  1. A clear set of goals
  2. A good balance between the challenge and skill. We have to believe we can do it.
  3. Immediate feedback. Feedback can be external or internal (Ex: That voice in our head saying “Okay maybe if I move it a little more to the right, no, back to the left, okay that’s good.” ) 

My favorite flow experiences are writing, public speaking, reading non-fiction, cleaning closets, and cooking. Flow can be felt when you are completely focused on a major grant, working on a case, making a diagnosis, cleaning a drain, scrubbing the tub, washing the car, playing cards or golfing. It is the stuff that makes us forget all the other stuff.

When I decide to cook or make something to eat, I have a clear and simple goal – I am going to cook or make something to eat. I know I can do it, since I’ve had lots of successful experience, and I enjoy the challenge of rooting through the refrigerator and cupboards to see what’s available and then figuring out how to transform that into something delicious. During the process, I give myself lots of feedback, “Oh, we don’t have this, but we do have that”, “I wonder if that will mix well with this or should I try something else?” My favorite internal and external feedback when cooking is always, “Mmm, that tastes good.”

Although flow activities are personal; flow experiences are universal. People of all cultures experience flow and describe it in a similar way including: losing track of time, feeling in the zone, and thinking only about task at hand.

3. Fulfillment

This is the warm and fuzzy or deep, rich, job-well-done feeling we get when we’ve accomplished something we are proud of or that matters to us. The “something” varies from person to person, tast to task, and month to month, and may include getting a college degree or cleaning that tub – the 3 F’s are in the heart and mind of the beholder.

Final thoughts

Now that you understand what you need, all you have to do is find ways to bring all three – fun, flow and fulfillment – into your life on a regular basis. Remember, having one or two of the 3 F’s can enrich your life, but being happy is dependent on having all three. (Did you notice that none of the 3 F’s mentioned money, health, or prestige?)

Take some time, to look at your life to see if the 3 F’s are present, if so, jot down when, where and how they occur. Paying attention to your experiences will help you create a foundation for the future, and will help you recognize what truly makes you happy. Writing this blog is a flow experience for me. I also find it fulfilling and fun- one activity, 3 F’s, not bad!

Begin paying attention to what excites and delights you today, and build from there. Bring as many of “F’s” into your life, as possible.

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The 3 F’s of Happiness

  

Would you like a formula for happiness? Here is my favorite, and it’s scientifically accepted.

   Fun  + Flow + Fulfillment =  Happiness

These are 3 “F” words worth repeating. They were gathered together by Martin Seligman, Ph.D., the father of positive psychology. Seligman is a world-renown psychologist, professor and author at the University of Pennsylvania. As president of the American Psychological Association in 1998, he encouraged researchers to focus their work on the field of positive psychology, which motivated thousands of scientists to research the following key questions:

  • What works?
  • How and why does it work?
  • How can we create more of it in our lives and organizations?

Of particular interest to positive psychologists is the topic of happiness, which brings us back to Seligman and the 3 F’s. Seligman’s work revealed that happiness is a result of the 3 F’s.

Fun, Flow and Fulfillment

1. Fun

This one is easy to describe. Fun is:

  • The stuff that makes us laugh and smile or jump for joy
  • The stuff we spent lots of time doing as kids, and considered to be a normal part of our day
  • The stuff we now watch our kids, and sometimes other folks enjoying

I think that physical fun, is an important part of the mix. Dancing like Elaine on “Seinfeld“, running like Phoebe on “Friends“, playing games or rough-housing with the kids or grand kids, hitting a ball over the net, across the field, or in the hole without caring too much about how it gets there are great ways to relax and to have fun. Sports are a great stress reliever, and can be fun, but if we approach them too seriously, they may end-up being not be as much fun. Make sure what you are calling fun, really is!

2. Flow

For this concept I need to give a shout out to Dr. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, (MEE-hy CHEEK-sent-mə-HY-ee). Mihály is a Hungarian psychology professor, researcher and author and is a leader in the field of completely focused motivation, i.e. flow. Flow is that suspension-of-time feeling we have when we are deeply, maybe even blissfully, engrossed in what we are doing. For flow to occur the following must be in place:

  1. A clear set of goals
  2. A good balance between the challenge and skill. We have to believe we can do it.
  3. Immediate feedback. Feedback can be external or internal (Ex: That voice in our head saying “Okay maybe if I move it a little more to the right, no, back to the left, okay that’s good.” ) 

My favorite flow experiences are writing, public speaking, reading non-fiction, cleaning closets, and cooking. Flow can be felt when you are completely focused on a major grant, working on a case, making a diagnosis, cleaning a drain, scrubbing the tub, washing the car, playing cards or golfing. It’s the stuff that makes us forget all the other stuff.

When I decide to cook or make something to eat, I have a clear goal – I ‘m going to cook or make something to eat! I know I can do it, since I’ve had lots of successful experience, and I enjoy the challenge of rooting through the refrigerator and cupboards to see what’s available and then figuring out how to transform it into something delicious. During the process, I give myself lots of feedback, “Oh, we don’t have this, but we do have that”, “I wonder if that will mix well with this or should I try something else?”  My favorite internal and external feedback when cooking is always, “Mmm, that tastes good.”

Although flow activities are personal; flow experiences are universal. People of all cultures experience flow and describe it in a similar way including: losing track of time, feeling in the zone, and thinking only about task at hand.

3. Fulfillment

This is the warm and fuzzy or deep, rich, job-well-done feeling we get when we’ve accomplished something we are proud of or that matters to us. The “something” varies from person to person, month to month and task to task, and may include getting a college degree or cleaning that tub – the 3 F’s are  in the heart and mind of the beholder.

So now that we understand what we need, all we have to do is find ways to bring all three – fun, flow and fulfillment – into our lives. Remember, having one or two of the 3 F’s can enrich our lives, but being happy is dependent on having all three. (Did you notice that none of the 3 F’s mentioned money, health, prestige? More on the myths of happiness in  future posts.)

In April we will explore happiness in depth. Until then, you can get started by looking at your life to see if the 3 F’s are present, and if so, jot down when, where and how they occur. Paying attention to your experiences will help you create a foundation for the future, and help you recognize what actually makes you happy. Many adults don’t know what makes their hearts sing or their brains light up.

Writing this blog is a flow experience for me. I also find it fulfilling and to top off those 2 F’s with some fun, I’m going to head out the door for a walk with a few hops, skips and jumps thrown in. 

What one thing are you willing to do today to bring more happiness into your life? Start with something fun – just for fun, and we’ll work on the rest later.

WTW Dandelion

Why positive psychology matters

This Thursday at 6 p.m. I will be presenting my second “Why Positive Psychology Matters” talk in Macedonia at the American Corner in Bitola. I presented my first via the Internet in March at the American Corner in Skopje.

We will be discussing gratitude, the 3 F’s of Happiness, PERMA, personal stories and strengths and how are brains are designed to help us create the lives we really want.

If you are in the area, please join us! If you can’t make it, clink on the links above to read some of what we’ll be talking about. It may change your life.

And, if you like what you read, you can subscribe to Wishful Thinking Works, and follow on Facebook.

Peace Corps, up close and personal – II

 
 
Peace Corps turned 50 on March 1, 2011. During the past 50 years more than 200,000 Volunteers committed to spend 27 months abroad in a place very far from home that they accepted, but didn’t choose.
  
 Sound scary? It is. Sound adventurous? It is. Sound wonderful? It was.
 
To celebrate Peace Corps’ 50th Anniversary and the personal commitment and courage of five of those Volunteers, each Wednesday in March I will share one of their stories.

 

“For two years, Steffani lived in a remote village. The nearest phone was miles away. Making a call required a bit of planning – first a hike, then a boat ride, then a trip in a tap-taps (camionette/public cab) and voilà – she was there.”

Steff returned to Haiti in 2010 as a Response Peace Corps Volunteer

 

Steffani Fields was a 28 year-old former military “brat”, living in a great little house by the beach with her fiancé when she decided to join the Peace Corps. Although she was happy, her job as an office manager for a brokerage firm didn’t allow her to use her B.A. in Anthropology or to fulfill her dream of living abroad again, and somewhere down deep, she knew she wasn’t quite ready to settle down and get married.

Her desire to expand her world and to be able to observe and learn about another culture while gaining practical and personal linguistic and cultural experience led her to join Peace Corps. She’d led a privileged life, had a good education, and was ready to give back to the world.

Steffani served in the Peace Corps (PC) from March of 2000 to June of 2002 in the small Caribbean nation of Haiti. Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) worked in Haiti from: 1982 to 1987, 1990 to 1991, and 1996 to 2005 when the program was suspended. A total of 500 PCVs served in Haiti within those periods. Steffani was happy to be one of them.

For two years, she lived in a remote village. The nearest phone was miles away. Making a call required a bit of planning – first a hike, then a boat ride, then a trip in a tap-taps (camionette/public cab) and voilà – she was there. Many of the things we consider everyday necessities, were not part of her daily life in Haiti, but she loved living there, so much so, she now makes her home nearby. 

 

Swearing in as a Response Peace Corps Volunteer, August 2010

 

What’s your favorite PC memory?

The 300+ person party thrown for me on my site visit. I was quite overwhelmed, realizing how much this community was expecting from me in the next two years, but the joy of knowing how excited and curious they were to have me as a neighbor and co-worker is something I’ll never forget.

Your funniest memory?

Haitian culture is in general, quite superstitious. While living with my delegate and his family for the first three months*, I was warned not to open windows or doors or to venture out at night, because the night is full of spirits and evil-doers. But as an independent and thick-skulled American, I did not feel those rules applied to me and proceeded to sneak out of my room (two room house full of people) when the need to visit the outhouse arose. 

Sneaking out worked great, until one dark night in the outhouse when I reached for the toilet paper and instead grabbed an extremely, sickening and slimy bullfrog. After screaming much too loudly and waking everyone in the house, I received the toughest tongue-lashing I can remember, and learned what the real spirits of the night look and feel like.

Best thing about Haiti?

The culture. Definitely the culture! I learned that often the poorest people have the most faith, and in Haiti that makes for the most amazing art, music and religion.

Best thing about being a Peace Corps Volunteer?

I was able to give back to the world a little of what the world has given to me. It was a truly rewarding experience to use my education to improve the lives (even in the smallest of ways) of those less fortunate than me. I often thought that I could just have easily been born to Haitian parents in Haiti, and because of that fact alone, would have had none of the opportunities that an American has.

Least favorite thing?

Being perceived as a “walking-dollar sign”. I was robbed at gunpoint for nothing but a backpack, merely because I was a foreigner and therefore considered rich. (Steff was robbed in a city, not at site, a few weeks after she began her assignment.)

Biggest surprise you experienced about yourself, Peace Corps or your service country? 

How much I value my privacy and how I cannot give that up.

What did you miss most about the States? 

My family.

Did your Peace Corps service change you? If so, how? 

Peace Corps set me on a career path and permanent relationship with the island of Hispaniola. After Peace Corps I moved to Florida and spent 5 years managing my family’s frame shop and art gallery in Tampa, Florida. Then I spent a year working for the Global Institute/Project Medishare Haiti at the University of Miami. I traveled between the US and Haiti each month. 

I then married, and have lived with my husband in the Dominican Republic for the last few years. We are just two hours from the border of Haiti. I realized I prefer life here. (For those enquiring minds, her husband is not the fiancé she left behind when she joined PC.) 

I recently served as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer and worked for three months at the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince for USAID after the terrible earthquake of January 12, 2010. 

Port-au-Prince as a tent city in December 2010

Steff working with UN and USAID in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Steff with co-workers from the US Army and United Nations rebuilding Haiti, 2010

Among all the destruction and gloom, life goes on and school begins again - often in make-shift tents, December 2010

 

My life has come full circle in many ways. I applied to Peace Corps Dominican Republic for a Volunteer in the spectacular coastal village where I live. In May of 2010 a PCV began working with us on environmental/ecotourism projects.

 

Steff with Biembo, her neighbor and colmado (small store) owner. Improvements to the building his store is in are part of the PC project in their town.

 

Any memorable readjustment issues upon your return to States?

Yes, I could not readjust to commercialism and excess wealth and long-lasting holidays such as Christmas. I also had (and still do) a real hard time making up my mind in the shampoo aisle (and every other aisle, too) with the hundreds of choices in the American grocery stores.

 

Today, almost a decade after she applied to Peace Corps, Steff still lives by the water, but she and the location of the beach have changed.

 

View from Steff's front porch in the Dominic Republic.

View from Steff's front porch in the Dominican Republic.

 

I think this one says it all . . .

 

Another magical December in paradise, 2010

 

*As part of their training, Peace Corps Volunteers often live with a host family for the first three months in their host country to immerse themselves in the language and the culture. Peace Corps makes all the arrangements; there are usually a small group of volunteers living in the same village, town or city during the training period. The PCVs attend language class together 4 hours a day, 5 days a week. (The specifics of training vary from country to country.) 

  

 
 
 
 

 

Getting your bearings – Haiti and Dominican Republic are practically Florida’s neighbors.

 

To read the first “Peace Corps, up close and personal” profile about Dawn Hamil, and her assignment in the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco click here. 

Final Note: Steff is a friend of mine, talking to her helped me decide to join the Peace Corps.

 

 

Word flow

Whew, I just made it.

I feel like I’ve been running for miles.

All month I was trying to work in a post about poetry.

April is National Poetry Month, and here it is the last day. I almost missed it.

Why all the fuss?

Well, even though I am not a die-hard poetry fan, I truly love some poems.

This is one of my favorites; I see the room, smell the cooking, and feel their emotions.

When I am listening to or reading a poem, I have that wonderful sense of flow.  You know, when everything else fades away.  And, for me, that is fun.

Fun and flow are 2/3 of the happiness formula: fun, flow and fulfillment, which I call the 3 F’s, but more about that another time.

For now, just pick a poem or a site and listen.

Listening, enjoying and savoring poetry is absolutely free.

Ahhhh, so glad we are talking poetry in April.  Hope you are too, because you are a Phenomenal Woman.  And, this is just the kind of thing phenomenal women do!

Perhaps today, tonight or this weekend you can take the road less traveled and be gloriously lazy for a bit.

Sip a cup of soothing tea, taste the richness of a delicious, dark cup of coffee, or relax with a nice round glass of red wine while listening to, reading or even writing a poem.

Are you feeling the flow?

Have a great weekend.

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