Years ago, I discovered the Positive Psychology movement. Doctor Martin Seligman, of the University of Pennsylvania, a cognitive therapy guru, thought he knew how people could be happier. The big idea behind cognitive therapy is that we can change our behavior and overcome all sorts of emotional problems by changing our thinking.
The Authentic Happiness Center offers an online inventory of “signature strengths.” Seligman has identified 24 signature strengths, including: curiosity, love of learning, emotional intelligence, perseverance, integrity, self-control, humility, humor, and gratitude. I took the questionnaire, and found I got the lowest scores on gratitude.
At the time, I felt distinctly ungrateful. I was struggling financially, raising a child by myself, and lonely. I couldn’t think of anything to be grateful for. I know, that’s incredibly selfish, and I can see that in retrospect. I had my health, a thriving daughter, a job, albeit a dead-end one, and a roof over my head.
I took steps to change my life. Most notably, I went back to school and got my degree in teaching. Eventually, I found a job that I loved and financial security. I found gratitude, and happiness followed.
These days, there is much to be grateful for: retirement in paradise; a supportive husband; friends I can count on; and security. I’m doing all of the things I love: writing; baking my own bread; walking in the morning; and seeing the world. Time is mine. Time to sit and appreciate the scenery, watch the birds and butterflies, and count my blessings.