What is the Authentic Life?
What IS the authentic life? Or, put slightly differently, “What is the one thing that everyone wants, few people seem to find, and fewer still know where to look to find it?
I think it’s “happiness.” Or, what Aristotle called “the good life,” what researchers today might describe as “human flourishing.”
Last weekend, I was the keynote speaker at an event on this very topic of the authentic life, or human happiness, human flourishing.
Attached here are the slides I used in the fifty-minute presentation entitled, simply, The Authentic Life. I thought I’d share the slides with you. If you’re interested, I think most of them are self-explanatory. At least, I hope it is clear enough to see where I was going with the topic. If there is any value in these slides, let me know. Or better yet, share them with others.
In the slides below, I begin by raising what I think is the most important question. That question I raised at the beginning of this post. “What is the one thing everyone wants?” While I responded, “I think it’s happiness,” I will go one step further and suggest, “I do not think this is the one thing we all seek; I know it is.”
We may call it different things but, if there is anything we have learned from the varied spiritual traditions, from scores of philosophers throughout history, and, interestingly, from science itself, it is that we all want happiness.
I call it “The Authentic Life” precisely because, while happiness is what we seek, it is often sought in places that result in pseudo-happiness or what I liken to “inauthenticity.” Our culture is full of it.
In 1998, psychology departments in universities and colleges all across America began including the burgeoning research into the mechanisms of the brain, and what we were beginning to learn, and in the science of what became known as “the science of positive psychology.”
Since then, vast amounts of research has resulted in vast amounts of data authenticating what Martin Seligman first published in the New York Times bestseller, Authentic Happiness.
In this wonderful book, Seligman, University of Pennsylvania pioneering researcher, offers what is generally accepted today as “the Happiness Formula.” The formula suggests that human flourishing, human happiness, stems from three primary sources.
H = SP + LS + VA
Happiness = Your Brain’s SET POINT + Your LIFE SITUATION + Your VOLUNTARY ACTIONS (Choices)
It’s really not too complicated and every person – which includes every reader here – should avail him-or herself of this information. That’s the first step toward the authentic life. Why stumble along when there are books, and the research to back it up, to help guide you to that one thing everyone wants, few people seem to ever find, and fewer still know where to look to begin.
Now, you know.
Hopefully, these slides will create in you a hunger to go further.
Here’s to The Authentic Life!
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