Marcus Buckingham － bestselling author and leading expert in personal strengths － has been blogging over at the Huffington Post about his upcoming book, Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently, and I've been blogging about Buck's blogs.
Here's the down-and-dirty to date: Studies show that over the past forty years [just about my lifetime ... hmmm], women's happiness has decreased while men's has increased － this despite gradual growth in women's power and prosperity. Adding insult to injury, we're unhappier younger and we become even sadder as we age.
Wow. Debbie Downer moment, everyone.
OK, so what Buckingham did with all this bad news was to do a little research of his own to try to discover the upside: he talked with hundreds of women who claim to be happy and successful to try to determine what it is they all share.
First, he offered five quick questions to assess women's satisfaction with their lives:
1. How often do you get to do things you really like to do?
2. How often do you find yourself actively looking forward to the day ahead?
3. How often do you get so involved in what you're doing you lose track of time?
4. How often do you feel invigorated at the end of a long, busy day?
5. How often do you feel an emotional high in your life?
Second, he did in-depth interviews with all women who answered "every day" to four of the five questions.
Third, he found the common threads.
1. These women at some level simply chose to pursue happiness.
2. These women focus on moments rather than dreams, goals or plans. Not just any moments at all, but what Buckingham calls "strong-moments" － moments in your life that create in you strongly positive emotions, that you easily recall in vivid detail, that as you think about them, you feel yourself change. Buckingham says these strong-moments and the emotions they evoke represent your truth, your authentic self.
When you commit your life to being true to yourself, ... you are committing to the truth embodied in this specific moment which, for no rational reason, energizes you.
3. These women accept what they find. You might not like the strong-moments you find. But your life will get better once you accept the reality of which moments energize you and which don't. Says Buckingham:
[A]ccepting which moments strengthen you and which don't reveals to you exactly how you can live your dreams .... It means not only being comfortable in your own skin, but also being creative in your own skin.
4. These women strive for imbalance. OK, completely counterintuitive for me. But apparently these happy, successful women felt that not only is "balance" almost impossible to achieve [agreed], but also not necessarily fulfilling. Buckingham's recommendation:
Pinpoint the strong-moments in each part of your life, and gradually target or tilt your life toward them. [Be] as deliberate as you can about making them happen ... investigate them when they do happen, look at them from new perspectives, celebrate them. Give them the power of your attention.
5. These women say "Yes." Buckingham bucks common counsel by advising: Learn to say 'Yes.' Yes to the strong-moments ... Yes to the people who help you create these moments. Yes to your feelings as these moments happen. Say 'Yes' with enough focus and force, and yours will not be a balanced life, but it will be a full life.
Wow. Interesting if true, yes??
Finally, Buckingham offers the Strong Life Test － a quickie quiz to help you identify your "lead role," the role you return to again and again, a role you and the people closest to you see as the core of who you are. Knowing this role, according to Buckingham, will help you know where to look for your strong-moments, where to begin in order to infuse your life with greater happiness.
Just FYI, my Lead Role came up as Advisor, my Supporting Role as Equalizer. And you??