Peechaya Burroughs for TIME

You can live and operate at a higher-level if you know what to focus on.

The challenge is there are a lot of distractions, and it’s easy to lose your way, especially if you don’t have a North Star. What is the North Star for living, leading and learning at a higher level?

Lucky for us, Martin Seligman outlined 3 path of happiness long ago. The three paths are: 1) The Pleasant Life, 2) The Good Life, and 3) The Meaningful life.

You can use these three paths as a guide to think about three levels of living, as you learn and grow your way forward.

1. Level 1 Living (Meaningful Moments)

This is pleasure in the moment.

Level 1 living is really just taking what comes your way: the good, the bad and the ugly. If you are lucky, then you get more good than bad, but mostly it’s about going with the flow.

Level 1 living is about finding happiness in the moment. If you can learn to enjoy the journey, and if you are flexible and adaptable, you can gradually learn to enjoy more of your moments. If life throws you lemons, turn them into lemonade.

The more you master your ability to respond to challenges, and raise your frustration tolerance, the more you can learn to thrive in the moment.

2. Level 2 Living (Living Your Values)

This is where you take control of your life and create your own happiness and fulfillment by choosing to spend more time in your values. You can think of this as “the Good life.”

To spend more time in your values, you first need to identify your top values. Then you can use your values to design your lifestyle, guide your life, prioritize your time and simplify your decisions.

For example, if you like to learn, then find ways to make the small things you do each day, all about learning. If you value excellence, then with each task you take on, you can focus on mastering your craft. If you value adventure, then turn your projects into epic adventures.

In other words, learn how to thrive on your values.

3. Level 3 Living (Living Your Contribution)

This is a deeper level of living. Level 3 Living is where you give your best where you have your best to give, in the service of others. When you focus on the greater good, and when you focus on your unique strengths and talents, you create a deep sense of fulfillment.

The key is to find your strengths. The next key is to figure out a purpose that makes you come alive. Find a way to thrive on contribution.

One of the most useful questions I’ve found to guide me on all paths is: “Who do you want to be and what experiences do you want to create?”

It’s a simple, but profound question that helps me shape my work in progress.

In all cases, the key thing to keep in mind is that when it comes down to it, many people find that what really counts is the people whose lives they touch.

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This piece originally appeared on Sources of Insight.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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