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Regular readers of Figuring Out Fulfillment know that I don’t believe in shortcuts to finding your career niche, and I certainly don’t believe that once you find fulfillment you’ll never again be plagued by uncertainty. Fulfillment takes work, and one of the hardest parts of finding fulfillment is defining it.

Professor Martin E. P. Seligman explains in his book, Authentic Happiness, that, “hedonics – the science of how we feel moment to moment,” is a theory which many of us build our lives around. “A hedonist wants as many good moments and as few bad moments as possible in his life, and simple hedonics theory says that the quality of his life is just the quantity of good moments minus the quantity of bad moments.”

I doubt that many of us would believe we design our professional lives for in-the-moment pleasure, or that we define fulfillment solely by the state of our present moment.

Though how many of us choose a career because of its earning potential, convinced happiness will result from a good income and the many pleasures it provides? And how many of us choose a career because it is the path of least resistance? Expectations, our own and society’s, may propel us in a direction that is more harmonious to follow than to second guess.

Seligman suggests that to find authentic happiness we must consider our virtues and strengths. If we fail to define our lives by the strengths and virtues unique to us, our lives may not be void of positive emotions, but they will be void of authenticity. We’ll find ourselves evaluating the surface details and wondering why they aren’t enough to make us happy.

Read the next post to explore your strengths and virtues.