5 steps towards this thing called happiness

Stairway to heaven? Maybe not quite. But it doesn’t hurt to think about a stepwise approach about what could be better and how this relates to happiness or a fulfilling life… For people that are open for something new, searching for their next thing, or simply curious about what else is out there.

Valentin Schellhaas
Oct 3, 2018 · 4 min read
Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Something’s gotta give

I must be jinxed: No matter how good I feel, somehow I still end up being convinced it could be better. Let’s hope you’re not feeling the same way.
Unfortunately, our brain is somewhat wired for social comparison — mostly with people which seemingly are even happier or better off (thank you advertising & social media!). Of course, we know of Photoshop, fake news, that everybody puts his/her pants on one leg at a time, and that the grass only seems greener on the other side. But this doesn’t prevent us from grinning about the occasional mishap in the seemingly perfect world of others — and the subsequent guilty feeling for the Schadenfreude… well, let’s say a sort guilty feeling.

Just to be clear: I was lucky to grow up in a ‘privileged environment‘ (i.e. middle class in Southern Germany), have a wonderful family, am healthy, working on realising a professional dream and enjoying life — or as we say in Bavaria: „Mia geht’s sauguad“ (literally „I feel swine-great“)! But somewhere there’s this tiny annoying voice telling me that it still could be better.

Get better

Talking to people around me, it seems like many others know this tiny voice — especially in ‘life transitions‘ triggered by outside events (new job, city, partner, kids, retirement) or by our own doing.
Interestingly, there are many good approaches, which could prove the voice right and allow their respective owners to live an even more fulfilling life — if only someone would explain or show how to apply these approaches. The key to them are scientific insights from positive psychology and related disciplines on happiness research. Since there‘s already a separate article on the theoretical basis for these approaches, I am focusing on the practical angle in this post.

Practically speaking

As for the theory (see the previously mentioned article), there are also many practical approaches that aim to lead to a more fulfilling life or increase quality of life. Some of these approaches focus on the identity of a person (relating to personality constructs like the OCEAN model), others on strengths (e.g. signature strengths, strengths finder) and other on process steps (e.g. Designing your Life). With no intention of judging any of these, I feel like each one is missing at least one key aspect, thus I believe an approach combining several of these holds the best chance of being practically useful. One attempt of combing these could look this — comprising of five steps (and a catchy acronym, otherwise it doesn’t count):

· Reflect: Take a step back and think about what makes us happy, what our strengths and values are, where we derive our energy from.

· Explore: Discover how others have found their happiness and fulfilling life, and what scientific research has to say on the topic.

· Find & test: Develop ideas and try them out — for deeper meaning, own motivation and appreciation from others.

· Integrate: Find a way to integrate the most promising idea into our daily life.

· Engage: Inspire others with your idea and contribute to a more sustainable society.

Depending on one’s individual life situation and mood, each process step will be more or less relevant. To figure out the ’big‘ questions in life it, however, it makes sense to start from the beginning.

Where to start?

Each of these process steps fill shelfs of books — if you prefer a bit more pragmatic approach to theory & practice, we would recommend our purpose platform zentor. It provides inspiration to meaningful topics, opportunity to easily try out new things, and suggestions matching your personality.
How about a fully equipped workshop with all the tools you need for carpentry, welding and DYI for the hobby handyman? Start-up Mentoring for all of those, who like sharing their expertise? Innovation ideas and collaboration for inventors? A simple access to charitable engagement for all, who enjoy engaging in their community?

In good community

We see zentor as a mentor for people with ambition, who are open for something new, searching for their next ’thing‘ or simply curious about what life still has in stock. Our ambition is to not only provide individual inspiration for more happiness in life, but also to contribute to a more positive society. The better we feel ourselves, the more open and optimistic we see our environment — which in turn is contagious. The more content we are with our environment, the fewer we seek negative comparison with others.

Piqued your interest? Curious to hear your thoughts and comments.
Also, very interested in your feedback to www.zentor.de

Valentin Schellhaas

Written by

Founder of zentor.me, PhD in Psychology; Former Managing Director Experteer, CMO Westwing, Manager Bain & Co