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Essay On Future Is Now Zest For Living

For other meanings, see Zest (disambiguation).

In positive psychology, zest is one of the 24 strengths possessed by humanity. As a component of the virtue of courage, zest is defined as living life with a sense of excitement, anticipation, and energy. Approaching life as an adventure; such that one has “motivation in challenging situations or tasks”. Zest is essentially a concept of courage, and involves acquiring the motivation to complete challenging situations and tasks. Those who have zest exude enthusiasm, excitement and energy while approaching tasks in life. Hence, the concept of zest involves performing tasks wholeheartedly, whilst also being adventurous, vivacious and energetic.[1] It discourages the focus on the negative views of psychology. It embraces a notion that one must observe people that "live well" in order to truly understand positive psychology. (For example, a Buddhist monk would be a preferred subject of observation compared to a college student.)[2] Zestful people simply enjoy things more than people low in zestfulness.[3] Zest is a positive trait reflecting a person’s approach to life with anticipation, energy, enthusiasm and excitement.[4]

Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman developed terminology to describe human strengths. They developed a descriptive list of six human virtues (Wisdom and Knowledge, Courage, Humanity, Justice, Temperance, and Transcendence) comprising 24 strengths. Zest is one of the four strengths that combine to make up the virtue of courage, as defined by this system.[3]


The VIA-IS is a self-report questionnaire that assesses the strength with which respondents answer strength-relevant statements about themselves on a 1-5 Likert scale. The following statements on the VIA-IS are used to measure a persons zest: I look forward to each new day; I cannot wait to get started on a project; I want to fully participate in life, not just view it from the sidelines.[4]


As with many other constructs in the relatively new field of Positive Psychology, it is difficult to quantify zest. Other traits like socioeconomic status, which can easily be measured by gross income per household, or constructs like fear, which can be quantified by changes in heart rate, skin conductance, and pupil dilation, have much more defined and widely accepted methods of measure. However, measurements of Zest are still in the beginning stages of development. How do we measure how energetic one person is compared to another? How do we determine exactly how excited a person is about life? What precisely does it mean to approach life adventurously? These are just a few of the questions that must be answered to most effectively research zest.

Relating to the problem of operationalizing zest, much of the research currently done on this and many of the 24 character strengths are done via self-report. A Self report study is one in which participants are simply asked to report their own feelings or thoughts. There are many problems in research associated with self-report. The most pertinent one being the validity and reliability of measures as they are completely subjective rather than objective. People can misrepresent themselves or misinterpret the questions posed to them.

Since such data is not the most scientifically convincing body of evidence upon which to rest scientific conclusions, Positive Psychological research is very focused on developing more objective measures for topics such as zest in order to help build a stronger science of organizational behavior.[5]


Zest can be promoted in the workplace so that workers can have a more positive approach in their life which indirectly can affect their anticipation, excitement, and energy in the workplace. Evidence from a present study that had 9803 employed adults respond to a survey on an internet site, measured zest, orientation to work as a calling, and satisfaction to work and life in general. The survey showed that for many of the employees, work was a calling and a satisfaction. Employers can use such information to increase the productivity of their employees by taking zest into consideration. The study found that professionals had the highest zest, while clerical workers and homemakers were the least zestful. Professionals and homemakers viewed their job as a calling, while clerical workers were the least likely to do so. Clerical workers displayed one of the lowest levels of zest because in most instances they viewed their work as a career, a pedestal in the hopes of acquiring status and power to find a more suitable job for themselves in the future.[4] The results of this study follow trends observed by many other studies as well.[4]

Zest is speculated to be contagious just like many other strengths of character. Zest is obviously connected to, if not equal to group morale and can be a point of discussion for new studies from a positive organizational perspective with emphasis on zest.[4] Psychologists have learned about two main ways of promoting zest within workers: physical fitness and health set the tone for zest and it can be sustained through hope and optimism.[4] Depression is a well-documented enemy of zest, and its toll on productivity and physical health is enormous. The prevention or reduction of depression among workers might pay the additional benefit of increasing their sense that work is a calling.[4]

Zest is also linked to psychological well-being which is crucial in a work organization. For instance, psychological well-being predicts improved job performance, reduced absenteeism and reduced employee turnover. These are all benefits that can be explored more critically to make changes in the workplace.[4]

Increasing zestfulness is highly likely to increase the ability to be habitually happy.[6]

The results of a 2009 study on 228 schoolteacher in Hong Kong indicated that zest was often associated with positive emotions as well as increased levels of life satisfaction in teachers. It is suggested that cultivating zest in school teachers could help combat teacher burnout.[7] Overall, zest is said to be one character strength that coincides with healthy working behaviors such as ambition, creativity, persistence and leadership,[8] demonstrating that strengths-based interventions that cultivate zest can help improve work environments (see application for more information).It is also suggested that zest should be cultivated in the workplace in order to increase work satisfaction as well as general life satisfaction. The cultivation of zest may also decrease workplace burnout, which is the loss of productivity and enthusiasm for working.[9]

Positive youth development[edit]

Zest, along with gratitude, hope, curiosity and love, are important aspects of positive psychology and key to positive character development. The adequate promotion of these characteristics not only in domestic life but also in schools and other educational environments is extremely important to positive youth development. Furthermore, through promotion of character strengths such as zest children tend to experience fewer psychological problems such as depression and anxiety disorders. In fact, research shows that zest, along with hope and leadership, is associated with fewer issues with anxiety and depression.[10] This suggests that the cultivation of zest can serve as a buffer against mental illness.

Youths with high levels of zest also tend to excel academically and lead happier, brighter lives. More emphasis needs to be placed on positive developing characteristics such as zest, gratitude, hope, curiosity and love in schooling environments and live in general so that youth successfully and positively develop.[11]

Life satisfaction and Zest[edit]

Zest has been found to be linked to higher levels of life satisfaction[12][13][14] among adults as well as youths.[15] Studies suggest that certain character strengths, including zest as well as curiosity, gratitude, hope, and humor are highly correlated with life satisfaction, whereas others strengths demonstrate low correlations with life satisfaction (appreciation of beauty and excellence, creativity, kindness, love of learning and perspective) [12] It is suggested that zest is associated with higher life satisfaction because it is associated with living in the "here and now," which is also associated with life satisfaction. Furthermore, it is difficult to imagine zestful people who are often unhappy.[14]


Certain character strengths, including zest, have been found to be more common among youths than adults. This possibly reflects the influence of social and cognitive maturation and certain needs during different developmental periods [15]

In yet another study that reaffirmed the idea that zest was one of the VIA character strengths that had a strong link to life satisfaction, another trend in zest was discovered. This study indicated slight gender differences in levels of zest. For women, life satisfaction was predicted by zest, gratitude, hope, appreciation of beauty and love, whereas men's life satisfaction was predicted by creativity, perspective, fairness and humor.[13] These findings go along with gender stereotypes and suggest that life satisfaction comes when one lives according to the strengths especially valued in one's culture.[citation needed]

Zest and mental state[edit]

There is evidence on the VIA-Youth subscale[16][17] that zest is correlated with higher levels of neuroticism as well.[15]

Levels of zest have been found to be linked with post-traumatic growth, meaning that levels of zest increased with each traumatic event. This suggest that people may be more resilient than existing theories state, given the correlation between traumatic events and increases in character strengths such as zest [18]


There are a few working ways to help individuals cultivate zest:

One method to cultivate zest is acting "as if,' which involves living a "faith-based" rather than an "evidenced-based" life. This means believing in things that there may not be much evidence for or proof of.[19] Additionally, adopting strong body language may help, as well as "faking it until you make it" meaning acting as though one has an increased enthusiasm for life (more zest) until that increased enthusiasm is a reality (thus, an increase in zest is a reality) .

Another 2012 study demonstrated that groups that trained strengths (worked to cultivate these strengths) which are highly correlated with life satisfaction (including zest), had significant improvements in self-reported life satisfaction post-test (after training those strengths).[12] Zest can be an important characteristic to cultivate life satisfaction, thereby acting as a potential buffer against mental illness.[10]

See also[edit]



  • Joseph, Stephen; Linley, P. Alex (2006). Positive therapy : a meta-theory for positive psychological practice. London; New York: Routledge. ISBN 1-58391-772-1. 
Mountaineers who climb Mount Everest, such as this climber, could be said to have zest, as they have “motivation in challenging situations or tasks”.
  1. ^Snyder, C. R., & Lopez, S. J. (2007). The Value of Wisdom and Courage. Positive psychology: the scientific and practical explorations of human strengths (p. 241). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE Publications.
  2. ^Peterson, C. (2009). "Positive psychology". Reclaiming Children and Youth. 18 (2): 3–7. 
  3. ^ abSnyder, C. R.; Lopez, S. J. (2007). Positive Psychology: The Scientific and Practical Explorations of Human Strengths. California: Sage. 
  4. ^ abcdefghPeterson, C.; Park, N.; Hall, N.; Seligman, M. E. P. (2009). "Zest and work". Journal of Organizational Behavior. 30 (2): 161–172. doi:10.1002/job.584. 
  5. ^Wright, T. A.; Quick, J. C. (2009). "The emerging positive agenda in organizations: Greater than a trickle, but not yet a deluge". Journal of Organizational Behavior. 30 (2): 147–159. doi:10.1002/job.582. 
  6. ^Wilner, J. (2012). Zest, Savoring and Happiness. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 21, 2013, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/positive-psychology/2012/04/zest-savoring-and-happiness/
  7. ^Chan, David W. (2009). "The hierarchy of strengths: their relationship with subjective well-being among Chinese teachers in Hong Kong". science direct. 25: 867–875. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2009.01.010. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  8. ^Gander; Proyer; Ruch & Wyss (January 20, 2012). "The good character at work: an initial study on the contribution of character strengths in identifying healthy and unhealthy work-related behavior and experience patterns". Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 85 (8): 895–904. doi:10.1007/s00420-012-0736-x. PMID 22261976. 
  9. ^Peterson, Park, Hall, Seligman, Christopher, Nansook, Nicholas, Martin E. P. (2009). "Zest and Work"(PDF). Deepblue. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  10. ^ abKnoop & Niemic (July 10, 2012). "VIA Character Strengths: Research and Practice (The first 10 Years)". springer.com. springer: 11–29. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-4611-4_2. Retrieved April 6, 2015. 
  11. ^Park, Nansook (2009). "Building Strengths of Character: Keys to Positive Youth Development". Reclaiming Children and Youth. 18 (2): 42–47. 
  12. ^ abcProyer; Ruch & Buschor (March 16, 2012). "Testing Strengths-Based Interventions: A preliminary study on the effectiveness of a program targeting curiosity, gratitude, hope, humor, and zest for enhancing life satisfaction". Journal of Happiness Studies. Springer. 14: 275–292. doi:10.1007/s10902-012-9331-9. Archived from the original on August 13, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  13. ^ ab"Character Strengths and Well Being: Are There Gender Differences?". 
  14. ^ abPark; Peterson & Seligman (2004). "Strengths of Character and Well Being". academia.edu. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. Retrieved April 6, 2015. 
  15. ^ abcPark & Peterson (April 4, 2009). "Character Strengths: Research and Practice". tandfonline.com. Journal of College and Character. 10. doi:10.2202/1940-1639.1042. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  16. ^https://www.viacharacter.org/www/Portals/0/VIA%20Supplement-%20Using%20Youth%20Survey%20with%20Children%20with%20Intellectual%20Disabilities.pdf
  17. ^https://www.viacharacter.org/www/Research/Psychometric-Data-VIA-Youth-Survey
  18. ^"Strengths of Character and Posttraumatic Growth"(PDF). 
  19. ^Minarik, Susan K. (Jan 18, 2013). "Increase your happiness: add some zest to your life". Positive-Living-Now. Positive-Living-Now. Retrieved April 7, 2015. 

Every single one of us gets many, many lessons and opportunities to grow in every single lifetime. Each of these propels us forward in our spiritual and physical evolution. And while I believe that everything happens for a reason, and at just the right time, one cannot help sometimes to think how much different, and easier life may have been if we only knew certain things earlier on.

When you look at the people around you, or your own life, what do you normally see? Is there joy, passion, happiness, a zest for life, and balanced flow? Or, is there uncertainty, regrets, indecisiveness, drama and pain?

As we grow through life, we often learn many things the “hard way”. The resulting consequence is a life that many describe as “hard”, or “challenging”, or even “painful”. But what if there is an easier, a better way? What if it does not have to be difficult at all? The truth is that it doesn’t. It all depends on how consciously we go through life, and with how much resistance.

Of course hindsight is gold. If we only knew so much of what we know now, back then. Back then when this or that happened, that would have enabled us to act in a more favorable way to enhance our well-being, while decreasing our suffering. While we cannot undo what has been done, we can do two things that can improve how we react in future outcomes. First is as always, approaching each situation with the highest possible for us at any time level of awareness so that we are not quick to react, but act consciously. And secondly, we should learn from others. There are many things we can prevent ourselves from doing, or do better by learning what worked and what didn’t for others.

To help you from my personal experience, I will share with you a rather compact list of things that I would have loved to have known earlier in my life. While I live with no regrets, I know that it can be very valuable to do reflective introspection that can lead us to more expanded states of consciousness. At the same time, we can help others perhaps gain insight from our lessons and experiences to use in their own lives. In the end of course each being will do what is right for them at any given time, but it never hurts to spread inspiration that may just make the world of difference to someone’s life.

1. Truly, be yourself

Sure people tell us this, but does it really sink in when we are young?

I often find that it is easier for people to be anyone else, but themselves. In fact, in many ways our society promotes that. We tend to fit to our situations, instead of having our situations fit to us.

And boy…. how many negative things could be spared, saved and avoided, if we were only ourselves to begin with. We would have a much better chance at attracting the right mates, the right jobs, the right friends, etc… But as long as we choose to be someone we are not, we can never be truly happy.

It feels amazing to be myself today!

2. Don’t worry about what others think of you

As teens it seems to matter what everyone thinks of us, especially our friends. Throughout our lives this does not necessarily go away for most of us. We care what our parents think of us (for some right into their ripe old age), our co-workers, our friends, partners, etc…

But as most of us know – this can be both draining and like chasing our own tail. We cannot ever make everyone around us happy – and the truth is, we shouldn’t. Each person has to find their own inner happiness. We need to be allowed to be who we are. This goes back to point number one.

Because my thinking and lifestyle is so different from the mainstream, I had a choice – be myself regardless what others think, or stop being myself to fit in and make others comfortable. Well, I think you know what I chose ;)

It feels so good to be at a point in my life, where I know who I am, and my confidence allows me to be “me” without adjusting myself to fit in with others.

3. Nothing is the end of the world

Thinking back to my teen years especially, I think wow, did any little upset ever feel like the end of the world! A boyfriend break up, parents being mad, a lower grade than expected, and on and on the list goes. Each of these events could have easily brought on tears, pain, fear, and anguish about the future.

Today I know that life is far from serious, and that nothing is the end of the world. Everything is just an opportunity to declare who we are, to grow, to expand and to love.

No matter if a house burns down, or we lose all our money. No matter what – things always work out when we approach them with a calm mind, a conscious state of being and faith in the abundant and loving Universe.

We can get through so much more than we realize. And even those events that seem to not work out, are part of the perfection of it all and part of a much bigger purpose than we may be able to understand at the given time.

4. Unconditional love is true love

In our society the word love gets thrown around like the word walk. There is just one big difference. As soon as we are about 2 years old, we have a clear understanding of what walk is, and yet some of us at 90 years old still are not sure what love is.

It would have been awesome, to earlier in my life, be able to decipher between selfish love, possessive love, desperate love, guilty love and the list goes on and on.

Today I know that true love has no strings attached – no expectations – no conditions. Whether it is between parent and child, lovers or friends true love can exist. It is called unconditional love and it is who we truly are when we remove the rest.

5. Life need not be hard

Too often, and by too many, for most of our lives we hear that life is hard. Well, I like many others believed it. Until one day I didn’t.

Life is only as hard as we make it. Every thought, every choice and every action dictates how easy or hard anything will be. In the end, it is all relative. It is all our choice.

Had I known earlier that life need not be a struggle, many more things would have gone much more smoothly and with much more happiness along the way.

So today, I get to experience every moment and finally stop judging each one as hard or easy. Life just is.

6. My thoughts are not always my own – who is the Ego

Once I learned about the Ego, it is like the lights got turned on and so much made sense.

I owe so much of this to the work of Eckhart Tolle whose material was the greatest teacher for me about the Ego and the Pain-body. Once I learned about both, I could identify them within me and stop living out of them.

Being a conscious observer of my thoughts, it is delightful today to live the majority of each day from my conscious higher self, and less and less from the fear-based Ego self.

7. Heaven is not up in the clouds

To finish, one of the most powerful lessons I have learned in my life and wish I knew earlier was that Heaven is not some magical, mystical place in the clouds – but a state of being.

It is possible to remove the pain. It is possible to feel salvation here and now. It is possible to live out our highest selves. It is all possible.

We simply need to wake up, remember who we truly are and Be.

Life can be and is beautiful. We need not wait for Heaven when we die. We can die to our false selves any time and experience the beauty, the joy, the peace and love of Heaven right within ourselves, and give others around us a glimpse of inspiration that they too can be there right now.


In the end, as I mentioned before, I know that everything in my life, just as in yours had to unfold as perfectly as it did to bring us all to the place we are right now. And as much as I know I can name many, many more things that it would have been nice to know earlier, it is all in the learning of them that we become who we are. At the same time though, it never hurts to learn through other’s paths – or mistakes as some may call them.

We can help each other learn and grow, and even avoid some of the pitfalls by sharing together. For more inspiration I invite you to explore Abubakar Jamil’s list, and the contributions of over 100 personal development writers who share what they wished they learned earlier, in the Life Lessons Series.

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