My favourite part of the year is over. Living in one of the greyest parts of the world I cherish what it is we call summer. By which I mean: some sort of summery weather. If we’re lucky, it starts around May and ends somewhere in October. Sounds good? Well… Foreigners often joke that we don’t have any seasons, that it is just grey and dreary all year around. But having lived here for most of my life I’m able to see the silver lining: there is a difference from one part of the year to the other! That’s why I feel free to take the liberty to label such a long chunk of the year as ‘summery’. Everything is relative.
This year we had a summer that wasn’t bad at all. It didn’t start off too good, spring was rather cold and June was still rather chilly but at least there wasn’t much rain. But then July and August: they were wonderful, marvellous….
Often I found myself walking or cycling around town thinking life should always be this way: to step out of my front door and feel happy, just by feeling warm air on my skin. Not to ever be bothered thinking about bringing a jacket is high on my list of priorities.
Then it starts sneaking in: temperatures drop, days get longer until it gets to the point where I leave the house in the morning in the dark and get back home under the same circumstances. That’s when I start to feel again as if life is just passing me by and there’s nothing I can do about it. Nothing to do but just wait patiently. Bear with it until that day, where I leave my house in the morning and suddenly notice the sun has started to rise earlier. I like to pretend the birds serenade me on my way to work. That is the moment everything feels lighter and easier again. After all, days have been getting longer from late December on without me realising it..
Leaves me with a good six months of the year to struggle through. But what a waste of precious time, this feeling of being stuck in time! I’ve wondered if it is possible to transfer that summery feeling to another part of the year. To be happy to just walk out of the door? And to feel the crisp air on my skin, or raindrops? So far, no positive outcome: I only feel like rushing home after work and hide away. Not with an entire sense of unhappiness; it’s all just so bland. With a long, dark grey winter ahead of me that I’m pessimistic about I’m unsure what to do. I keep reading about the subject “How to live my life purpose”. Till I have to conclude that I’m spending an awful lot of time reading instead of doing whatever it is I’m supposed to do!
Martin Seligman is one of the founders of Positive Psychology. Dr. Seligman and his co founders thought psychology should not only heal the illness, but also build on strengths that all humans carry within them. He has concluded psychology helps people to feel better about themselves. It seems that 60 % of our chances to be happy is up to genetics, while the remaining 40 % is in our own hands. Now that’s catching my attention! I’m basically a happy person, how can I be happier?
Three different types of life are being distinguished: 1) A Pleasant Life; Where you have as much fun as you can. 2) A Good Life; Where you have found engagement and inspiration in what you do with your day. 3) A Meaningful Life: Where you know what your strengths are and how to use them.
The outcome shows that the Pleasant Life barely has any influence on positive emotions. Dr. Seligman compares it to the cream and the cherry on top of the cake. First make sure your life is one with meaning and engagement, the rest will follow.