I’d been exploring the intersection of Stephen Cope’s book The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling*, and Martin E. P. Seligman’s book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being* in relation to a blog series when this photo quote by Brené Brown came across my Facebook feed.
I think she hit the nail on the head.
For some people, midlife comes early – in their mid-30s. For others, it comes later – in their mid-60s. But for most of us, it arrives in our 40’s and 50’s. Whether it’s a mild tremor or an earthquake, the Universe asks us to deconstruct and reconstruct our lives in order to use the gifts we were given to offer a meaningful contribution to the planet and her people.
The good news is that
“People actually feel happiest and most fulfilled
when meeting the challenge of their dharma in the world,
when bringing highly concentrated effort to some compelling activity
for which they have a true calling.” ~ p. xxiv, The Great Work of Your Life
I believe the intended outcome of the midlife shake-up is to give us the opportunity to step into our dharma (our vocation, calling, or sacred duty in this lifetime) and flourish. So what does it mean to flourish?
According to Seligman’s research (p. 26 & 27, Flourish), the goal of positive psychology and well-being theory…is to increase the amount of flourishing in your own life and on the planet. To flourish, according to this Western perspective, an individual must have all the “Core Elements” and three of the six “Additional Features” listed below:
Core Elements of Well-Being:
Positive emotion – Engagement – Meaning – Accomplishment – Positive relationships
Additional Features of Well-Being:
Self-esteem – Optimism – Resilience – Vitality – Self-determination – Positive relationships
Some of these qualities we are lucky enough to be born with and some we cultivate over the course of our lifetime. But however we receive them, it seems to me that if we “[bring] highly concentrated effort to some compelling activity for which [we have] a true calling”, the elements of flourishing will be present. And, vice versa.
What do you think?
How does this information effect how you think/feel about your midlife journey?
Does it draw you closer to or further into your current work or the changes you’d like to make in your work?
p.p.s. This post was first published on the blog for Southwestern College.
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