By Alexa Zengeni
Take a moment to identify the virtues of the woman described in Proverbs 31 … she is a blessing, reliable, responsible, supportive, courageous, trustworthy, a protector, business savvy, educated about the world, influential, unafraid, should I go on?
How does anybody live up to her?
- She can integrate her life – both domestic and professional.
- She knows her worth.
- She has an accurate judgment about the world and her influence in it.
- She knows how to use her strengths to her best advantage.
- She works hard and gets things done.
It seems that her greatest strength is her wisdom; her wisdom in caring for herself so she can share her strength with others. Can you or I possibly acquire that wisdom? Of course we can. According to positive psychologists there is indeed a way for us to live her life.
Positive psychologists say there are three roads to happiness: The Pleasant Life, The Good Life and The Meaningful Life.
But pleasures gradually lose their power – we need larger doses to get the original kick or find ourselves on a treadmill, moving from one thrill to the next to keep feeling good. Our pleasures are also constrained by genetics. Researchers have found that a person’s happiness level typically centres on a set-point. For example, if a person wins the lottery and feels extreme joy, or a paraplegic is initially devastated by their disability, they will gradually return close to their previous degree of happiness. And then again, once our basic needs of food, shelter and safety are met, there is a poor relationship between money and happiness.
To achieve satisfaction and contentment, we are advised to follow the paths leading to The Good Life and The Meaningful Life. This requires the use of signature strengths which are not genetically predisposed. They are based on the enjoyment we feel from using our strengths and virtues in life’s activities – work or play:
- the Good Life is achieved through obtaining flow, a state of total absorption (when time stops and you are at one with the music) in an activity or endeavour
- the Meaningful Life is achieved through service to others
To be truly happy, we must draw on what Martin Seligman and his fellow researchers call “signature strengths”. Positive psychology measures 24 signature strengths which fall under one of six “virtues” which are grouped as wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and spirituality.
My challenge to you is to consider your strengths and pursue the good life.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
I love the words of Psalm 139 which remind me that I am the Lord’s wonderful creation. By using my strengths, I enter into that state of state of flow. I have experienced this in my career as facilitator and coach. When I am connecting with learners or clients, when I see them light up with revelation and new found strength. There is just nothing like it. I can spend hours on a culinary adventure; from seeking out a recipe, shopping, chopping, slicing, dicing and firing up a storm in my kitchen. I have many gratifying memories of having family and friends over to celebrate life, birthdays, anniversaries with good food and drink. Time melts away.
Psalm 37 is my compass to the meaningful life. To enjoy the meaningful life, seek and live out your God given life purpose.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
It may take some experimentation to find your life purpose. It took me two weeks to realise mine, followed by a change in career and a journey of four years developing my skills to live my meaningful life – helping people learn, to realise their potential and to live a life of abundance.
What are you doing when you lose track of time?
About Alexa Zengeni
Alexa Zengeni is a Personal and Corporate Coach based in Johannesburg. She started her career by working as a human resources generalist primarily in the Financial Services Sector. More recently her work,facilitating leadership development programmes, has taken her across Africa, exposing her to multiple levels in the organisation, and different disciplines and industries – including mining, infrastructure development and retail.Through facilitation and coaching Alexa creates safe yet challenging learning environments, urging others to reach their peak in both their personal and professional lives.