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Building authentic happiness

September 24, 2014

Here’s a great idea…

In his book, Authentic Happiness, Martin E.P. Seligman says

“The belief that we can rely on shortcuts to gratification and bypass the exercise of personal strengths and virtues is folly. It leads…to legions of humanity who are depressed in the middle of great wealth and are starving to death spiritually” (p.120).

In other words…

There are lots of things people do for pleasure: television, drugs, shopping, spectator sports, etc. They think that these activities are shortcuts to happiness, but building authentic happiness requires effort. There are no shortcuts. Just as physical exercise builds our muscles, acting on our signature strengths and virtues builds our well-being. When we use our strengths and virtues regularly, we will be happier, more productive, and continue to grow.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life…

Look for opportunities to use your strengths and practice your virtues. Look around you. Do you see a task that could benefit from your unique strengths? Do you see challenges that might be overcome by the use of these virtues?

To learn more about what YOUR personal strengths and virtues are, go to, and take the free VIA Survey of Character Strengths. This 240-item survey will help you determine which of the 24 identified human strengths and virtues are most characteristic of you.

To Find Out More…

about personal well-being, check out Your Blueprint for Happiness or Getting Our Hearts Right at, follow us at or contact your local county Extension agent. You may also enjoy reading Authentic Happiness.

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