by: Aleks Srbinoski
Aleks Psych: I know my strengths and I work on enhancing them every day.
Smart Alek: I know your weaknesses and I work on reminding you of them every day.
What causes happiness is a question with many answers. One of the key practices recommended by positive psychology practitioners is the importance of incorporating as many of your strengths into as many of your activities as possible. By doing this, you will significantly increase your chances of thoroughly enjoying those activities. However I believe happiness is not always about your successes. When it comes to individual psychology, what makes people happy above all else is their attitude!
When was the last time you took on a task that you knew you would be very poor at, and decided to embrace it anyway? People are so terrified of experiencing things they know they will not be great at. Having that attitude sets you back for two reasons. The first is, how do you really know how you will do until you give it a good honest try? Secondly, you may be robbing yourself of a really enjoyable experience. It can be one of the hardest things in the world to do, but if you can leave your self-criticism behind, you may find that pleasure is not only reserved for those in the A league, happiness is also obtainable in the Z league.
I love visual arts. In my mind I have incredible images and ideas. There is only one small issue. I am a very, very, very poor visual artist. A pirate with a hook for a hand would do better then I. Children laugh at my work! I stink so bad that skunks don’t come within a 10 mile radius when I am painting. But here is the beautiful part. What causes happiness for me is that I don’t care!
Why not embrace your suckiness? Who am I to deny my glorious right to produce aesthetically unrecognisable and insignificant work? Some of our happiest moments come in weakness. Falling over will always be funny. Home video bloopers will always exist and I am sorry to say, but we have a biological drive to at times embarrass ourselves. This too is part of the psychology of what makes people happy. But this is how we learn to appreciate what we can not do well and develop humility. Our weaknesses build the richness of life by allowing us to enjoy the brilliance of others without always feeling the need to compete. There are some challenges you can not win, and that is fantastic!
Visual art was easily my worst subject in high school. I was so bad, I think my teacher tried to recommend that I stay away from the paint and stick to crayon. My charcoal sketches looked like they were created inside a mine and my pottery efforts never even came close to staying together, net alone surviving the kiln. However these experiences have not deterred me from my right to occasionally indulge in what I will call ‘Outside of outsider abstract art’ with my signature technique being referred to as Creative Rebellious Artistic Passion, or you can use the acronym if you prefer.
I spend the majority of my life working on and living towards my strengths which do lead to achieving true happiness. However, not every experience you have will cater to your strengths, nor should they. One way to build up your resistance against discomfort and possible adversity is to occasionally seek experiences where you know you will struggle. I recently decided (not for the first time) to do some painting alongside my partner. While she painted a poignant portrait of me, I struggled to master a smiley face. Despite my abilities, we both had a wonderful time. She was impressed with my very minor progress and even suggested that I paint a portrait of her. I said ‘I would love to but I value our relationship too much. Maybe later tonight before bed when you have your contact lenses out’.
Psychology – What makes people happy – Celebrating your weaknesses Exercise: Write down three activities that you wish you could be great at. Choose one and schedule at least a half hour (preferably hour or more) period of time in the next month to indulge in the activity to the best of your ability. Try to leave your self-criticism behind and enjoy immersing yourself in the activity, enjoying the process rather than focusing on the outcome.
Aleks Srbinoski is a Clinical and Coaching Psychologist, Company Consultant, Creative Writer and Author, Humorist and Inspirational Motivational Speaker. He is the Director of Aleks inPsychology, a self-development training company with a mission to guide as many people as possible towards a life of Fulfilling Happiness. His diverse range of professional and personal experiences demonstrate a love for serving people through his extensive Psychology, Creativity and Self Development experience. Find out more about more about Aleks’ highly entertaining, informative, inspiring and comprehensive life skill coaching program Fulfilling Happiness: Preventing clinical anxiety, depression and anger whilst surging towards an extraordinary and meaningful life. Go to http://www.fulfillinghappiness.com To access numerous FREE self-development and happiness resources, and find out more about the range of other professional individual and organizational coaching services Aleks offers, go tohttp://www.aleksinpsychology.com
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