I must have drifted off for a bit. This has to be the longest delay between setup and punchline! My apologies, readers (or perhaps “reader”, as I can only count on Valerie to read at this point – and she is just trying to make sure I don’t say anything too embarrassing). If anyone else is out there, waiting patiently or even impatiently, thank you!
Anyways, where was I? Oh yes, happiness. I was about to tell you about the outcome of the ten week “Science of Well-Being” course led by Dr. Laurie Santos. As described in my previous articles, the course provided great information on what truly makes us happy – and includes tried and true methods to improve our well-being. I chose to implement a regular practice of gratitude and meditation. For me, that was five (written) gratitude statements and at least ten minutes of meditation per day for the four week period. I may have missed a couple of sessions, but close enough for the real world. Progress, not perfection as the saying goes!
To cap off the course, we were asked to re-test our “happiness levels” using the same online tools we used when the course began. You can check out my Week 1 posting for more details. A helpful hint: if you decide to play along and do this course and use the assessment tools, try not to think about your answers too much. You have already been primed to think about well-being, so the basis for the questions becomes a little more apparent. Rip it off and be honest with yourself.
So, drum roll please…. Dhrrrrrrr …. My measured well-being scores increased by about 10%*. On the “PERMA” score I went from 7 to 7.8/10. That is like moving from a C+ to a solid B (for those of us who used to be tortured with classic report cards). I would say that isn’t too shabby.
Since the course ended, my routines fell apart to a large degree. I won’t waste any space on excuses. Sometimes life intrudes and we fail to make space for all the great things we learned about in the course. Lately I have been trying to get back into meditation, even setting a lower bar for minimum time each day to ensure there is simply no excuse not to do it. After all, if you strip it down, one conscious thought or a mindful breath can be a meditation!
As a final evaluation, the course was totally worth it. Heck, it was free and yielded a 10% well-being boost. Most importantly though, it really helps me to think about life and how to make it that much better as I face opportunities and challenges. Given average life spans, it would be generous to say that I am truly middle-aged. I am ever more mindful of my friend Laurence’s admonition that “We are the authors of our own book.” Now to work on the plot for the next chapters in my life’s book. I would like the synopsis to be: He lived happy-ish-ly ever after.
*This puts me in line with another famous ten-percenter – Dan Harris. For an entertaining read or audiobook listen, check out his book “Ten Percent Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story”. Or if that title seems to long, check out the “Ten Percent Happier” podcast. While not many of us will have our life changing meltdown captured on national TV, Harris is very entertaining and “real” as he explores ways to improve well-being, with a strong focus on meditation.
Art by dirriken