Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman


There are six core virtues:

  1. Wisdom and knowledge
  2. Courage
  3. Love and Humanity
  4. Justice
  5. Temperance
  6. Spirituality and transcendence

Using these six core values, Seligman and his Positive Psychology researchers have categorized a set of 24 character strengths. It’s up to us to figure out which ones of these are our signature strengths so we can fully leverage them in life.


“I do not believe that you should devote overly much effort to correcting your weaknesses. Rather, I believe that the highest success in living and the deepest emotional satisfaction comes from building and using your signature strengths.” – Martin Seligman
According to the PN, one of the key themes of Authentic Happiness is to focus on your strengths. Instead of trying to bring your weaknesses on par with your strengths, successful people will leverage their strengths and do just enough with their weaknesses that it doesn’t hurt them.
I would like to think that I focus on my strengths, but I know there are definitely times when I start focusing in on my weaknesses thinking that I have to hone that area. It’s something that I constantly have to remind myself that it’s okay to have weaknesses.
So we’ve talked a lot about strengths and weaknesses, but I haven’t given you anything to use to find it. Go to, sign up for an account (free), and try and start with the VIA Survey of Character Strengths.
For those interested in knowing my top 5 strengths:
1. Curiosity – “You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.”
2. Love of learning – “You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.”
3. Zest / enthusiasm & energy – “Regardless of what you do, you approach it with excitement and energy. You never do anything halfway or halfheartedly. For you, life is an adventure.”
4. self control / regulation – “You self-consciously regulate what you feel and what you do. You are a disciplined person. You are in control of your appetites and your emotions, not vice versa.”
5. creativity / ingenuity & originality – “Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.”

As for my weakest strength: bravery and valor – “You are a courageous person who does not shrink from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain. You speak up for what is right even if there is opposition. You act on your convictions.”


“If you can find a way to use your signature strengths at work often, and also see your work as contributing to the greater good, you have a calling.” – Martin Seilgman
According to Martin, there are three kinds of work orientation: a job, a career and a calling. A job is if you’re strictly going for a paycheck. A career is if you enjoy the process of mastery of a given domain. A calling is a passionate commitment to work for its own sake.
This PN echos Seilgman’s thoughts that “The good life consists in deriving happiness by using your signature strengths every day in the main realms of living. The meaningful life adds one more component: using these same strengths to forward knowledge, power, or goodness.”.

So how would I use my strengths every day?
Curiosity / love of learning – I create monthly goals and a handful of them is always in the realm of learning something new. I try to schedule a conversation with someone who knows more about certain topics so I can pick their brain. I always wonder how I can apply what I’m learning to my life to enhance it.
Zest, enthusiasm and energy – I’m always working on something that excites me which helps refuel myself. Life is definitely an adventure in my world.
Self control and self regulation – I understand that in order to have all the enthusiasm and energy in the long run, I will need to take care of myself each day. The first thing I do after waking up is meditate – to calm my mind, and set myself up for the day. I will take care of my body by eating healthy and giving it the proper exercise for it to function.
Creativity, ingenuity and originality – I am constantly optimizing myself by leveraging what I learn to implement in my life.

My Take Aways

This PN was the first one that had an exercise as it’s main idea. It was definitely a lot of fun taking the test and seeing what showed up (must be my curiosity talking). One of the things that was mentioned in the PN (from the book) is that there is a lot of work done on mental illness – that is, how do we take someone from feeling -9 to -3 to 0. But there has been no real work done to see how we can bring someone from 0 – 3 – 9. This exercise is definitely a great starting point, but I’d love to learn what else Authentic Happiness covers. I’ll be adding this to my collection of books to read and if you’re also interested in doing so, you can get it from Amazon (please note that I will be getting a small amount from Amazon, though it does not affect how much you pay – Amazon just makes less money than if you were to go onto the website yourself). I also suggest you check out the actual Philosopher’s Notes (note they even have courses that consolidate many of the concepts in the books that Brian Joshnson covers and puts them into videos that are really easy to digest). This is the first program that I’ve signed up for and am definitely getting my money’s worth!

I’m curious – what are your top 5 strengths?


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