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By Lisa Cypers Kamen.

When I participated in my first career day, I was barely old enough to walk to the bus stop by myself. What does a fourth grader know about a career? Very little, but boy, did we try to dream up big goals. Clustered in my elementary school’s tiny library, my classmates and I were each on a mission to find the perfect careers to compliment our strengths.

Doctor was a popular pick for the science geeks. There were many future firefighters and presidents in the room, mostly among the classmates who were natural leaders. The more talkative kids all seemed to gravitate toward the entertainment biz, the more introspective ones set their sights on teaching or writing.

Harvesting Happiness: Career Day

As children, teens, and even young adults, there’s no escaping the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And as annoying and predictable as it might be, it really is an idea worth chewing on.

When we think about what we want to be, it’s natural to think about our strengths and skills. The future firefighters recognized their penchant for helping people, and the would-be presidents identified their strong leadership skills. And the quieter kids with less overt gifts found paths that would put their strong thinking skills to good use.

Each of us has a natural knack for something, and the sooner we embrace those parts of ourselves, the better. By asking ourselves what we want to be rather than who we want to be, we refuse to compromise our identities. We own ourselves and see our gifts as beneficial to our careers rather than defined by them.

So the next time someone asks you what you want to be, don’t balk or shrug off the question as a generic conversation starter. Take a few moments to identify your strengths and think about how you can put them to good use. Each of us has a mark to make, and our natural strengths are the fuel for what we can accomplish.

Happiness is an inside job®.

Harvesting Strategy:

Imagine that you are applying for a job. The application prompts you to list what skills make you a strong candidate. Without knowing the job’s major duties and responsibilities, brainstorm at least five natural skills you possess that you feel set you apart.

By completing this exercise, you should begin to see that your natural gifts and talents enhance your career prospects, not vice versa. Who you are is with you from the day you are born; and with a little luck, you’ll use that essence to discover what you want to be.

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Lisa Cypers Kamen is a filmmaker, positive psychology coach, author, host of Harvesting Happiness Talk Radio, professor and lecturer specializing in the field of sustainable happiness. She is widely recognized as an expert on the subject. Lisa’s acclaimed documentary film co-produced with her now fifteen year-old daughter, Kayla, “H-Factor…Where is your heart?” explores how people in varied circumstances find, generate and share happiness. In addition to her film on happiness, Lisa has also published a number of articles and books entitled, Got Happiness Now?, Are We Happy Yet?, Leadership: Helping Others to Succeed and Reintegration Strategies, about combat trauma and using positive psychology principles to create wellness in a post-war new normal. Lisa’s written work is featured on blogs for the Huffington Post, and and she is a TEDx community event speaker. In addition, she is the Happiness Expert for the Florida Department of Citrus/ Florida Orange Juice in its Take on the Day campaign.

Harvesting Happiness for Heroes™ is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that delivers stigma-free integrated combat trauma recovery services to warriors and their loved ones. Modalities include scientifically proven strengths based Positive Psychology coaching and interdisciplinary tools such as film, yoga, meditation, art and creative writing designed to mindfully empower the client to achieve increased self-mastery, self-esteem and reclaim her/his life. HH4Heroes focuses on the balance of mind, body and emotion resulting in greater overall wellbeing and the transformation of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) into Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG). HH4Heroes offers retreat workshops, one-on-one coaching, Battle Buddy programs, as well as our new R.E.B.O.O.T Online virtual community coaching classrooms designed to reach underserved areas. In addition, HH4Heroes deploys Return to Duty™ civilian and corporate training to help welcome a warrior home and into the community and workplace.

Lisa is committed to teaching Happiness is an inside job™ and helping others end their needless suffering through intentionally cultivating greater joy.

For more information, please visit, and

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