Personal branding is not the ultimate key to happiness, but it can help individuals to access their talents, engage with their work and enjoy a meaningful career, which definitely contributes to happiness. In fact, I am involved in personal branding because of the rewards I believe it can bring to individuals in terms of fulfilment. Let me explain:
Dr Marty Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association, has undertaken extensive research into happiness and what makes people happy. Along with Nancy Etcoff, Dan Gilbert and Mike Csikszentmihalyi, Seligman focuses on what he terms positive psychology.
Instead of trying to do what traditional psychology and psychiatry aim to do – make miserable people less miserable – he is concerned with positive interventions that seek to make people happier.
In a TED Talk on Positive Psychology, Seligman notes that psychology should be just as concerned with human strength as it is with weakness; just as concerned with building strength as with repairing damage; and it should be interested in the best things in life. “It should be just as concerned with making the lives of normal people fulfilling, and with genius, with nurturing high talent,” he says.
Seligman believes that it’s possible to measure different types of happiness and has identified three happy lives: The Pleasant Life, The Good Life and The Meaningful Life.
- The Pleasant Life is realised if we learn to savour and appreciate such basic pleasures as companionship, the natural environment and our bodily needs. Basically, it’s about having as much positive emotion as possible and the ability to increase it.
- The Good Life is achieved through engagement. As Seligman points out, according to modern theories of self-esteem, life is only genuinely satisfying if we discover value within ourselves. One of the best ways of living the good life is by nourishing our unique strengths and putting them to use as much as possible.
- The Meaningful Life is reached when we find a deep sense of fulfilment by employing our unique and best strengths for a purpose greater than ourselves.
According to Seligman, the next question is about how much life satisfaction you get from these three happy lives. He says the pursuit of pleasure has almost no contribution to life satisfaction, while the pursuit of meaning is the strongest and the pursuit of engagement is also very strong. But if you have meaning and engagement, pleasure is the cherry on top.
Developing your brand
This is where personal branding comes in. Developing your personal brand is a process of self-discovery: identifying your strength, values, passions and how to bring those into your current wold. If you are following your passion, doing work that utilizes your strengths and aligns with your values, you are engaged. Time seems to stop for you while you are working. This is living the Good Life.
As Seligman says, one should live a life in which one “uses one’s signature strengths every day in the main realms of your life to bring abundant gratification and authentic happiness.”
Another trait of the most effective personal brands are those with a deep sense of meaning, which corresponds to Seligman’s Meaningful Life.
Knowing what your unique signature strengths are and using these in service to make a positive impact and a lasting difference is what successful personal branding and the Meaningful Life are all about: purpose.
Authenticity and purpose are key ingredients to leading a Meaningful Life and creating a powerful personal brand. This comes from knowing who you are, what you want, what your passion is, and then investing your time and energy into making those things a reality.
When you do what you love, you are committed to developing yourself continuously – another key component of personal branding, being engaged and having meaning.
By truly understanding who you are, what your unique strengths are and how to use those talents to live and engaged and purposeful life, I believe you will not only build an authentic and successful personal brand, but also achieve life satisfaction.