What makes you happy?
Psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman, widely viewed as the ‘father of positive psychology’, asserts that human flourishing is about five things: experiencing positive emotions, being engaged with what you do, having strong social connections, feeling that your life has meaning beyond yourself, and having a sense of personal achievement.
In the last decade of working in the field of social entrepreneurship, I’ve realized that starting a purpose-driven organization is a concrete way to take this powerful understanding of ‘happiness theory’ and actually live it. It all started back in 2001, when I took a life-changing course at Harvard Business School titled, ‘Effective Leadership of the Social Enterprise’. In this case-based class, we studied the stories of individuals who taken an idea they were passionate about and built financially sustainable organizations that were positively transformed people’s lives. The founders of these organizations, many of whom flew in to be guest speakers in the course, exuded an energy that I have come to notice in people who are living their calling.
That was over ten years ago. Today, a course in ‘social entrepreneurship’ is no longer an anomaly in an MBA program nor at the U.N. mandated University for Peace, where I teach the online course ‘Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Social Change’ several times a year. However, my hope is that by 2020 the term ‘social entrepreneur’ becomes redundant and that all entrepreneurs embed ‘social impact’ as a central to their organizations.
It’s difficult for me to conceive of what education will look like a decade from now, given the innovations we’re seeing. But one question that will continue to be central to the human condition is, “What makes me happy?”. And that’s where my answer is not going to change: “Give yourself permission to move forward with your idea and enjoy the journey!”
Mohit Mukherjee is the founding Director of the UPEACE Centre for Executive Education, which recently launched an online Diploma in Social Innovation for global changemakers