The MPS Process

Discovering Work That You Love

Woman Happy at Work

Discover work that you love.

© iStockphoto/laflor

Think back to a time when you worked on a project that you really enjoyed.

Chances are, the people were great, the work was meaningful, it brought you pleasure, and it challenged you enough to make you feel that you'd accomplished something really worthwhile.

When a project resonates with us like this, we put forth our very best effort. Why? Because doing work like this is pure joy. In fact, it hardly seems like work at all!

When we work on these projects regularly, we're happy, we're productive, we're optimistic, and we're deeply engaged in what we're doing. So, how can you target projects that will give you this type of engagement?

One way of doing this is to use the Meaning, Pleasure, Strengths (MPS) Process. In this article, we'll discuss what MPS is, and we'll see how you can use it to increase the proportion of rewarding work that you do.

About the Tool

The MPS Process was created by Harvard professor and best-selling author, Dr Tal Ben-Shahar, and was published in his book, "Happier." The model develops ideas from positive psychologist, Dr Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Dr Csikszentmihalyi's groundbreaking work was on the concept of "flow  ." When we do work that is both meaningful and challenging, we slip into flow, losing track of time and our sense of self as we focus solely on the task at hand. This can be enormously enjoyable and satisfying.

Dr Ben-Shahar adapted this concept and created the MPS Process as a way for us to seek out jobs, projects, and tasks that challenge and engage us.

With the MPS Process, you ask yourself three crucial questions:

  1. What gives me meaning?
  2. What gives me pleasure?
  3. What are my strengths?

From "Happier" by Tal Ben-Shahar. © 2007 McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

When we regularly do work that combines these three elements, we're much more likely to achieve flow and be happy in our careers.


The MPS Process prompts you to look deeply at what brings you meaning and pleasure. It also encourages you to understand and get to know your strengths.

For this reason, it might be best to spend several days thinking about the questions below, before answering them fully. You might also find it helpful to read about the PERMA Model  , which helps you define what true happiness means for you.

How to Use the Tool

Step 1: Answer the MPS Questions

The first step in using the tool is to answer the three key questions...

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