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Are You Flourishing? 5 Elements of PERMA

Are You Flourishing? 5 Elements of PERMA

“Is there someone in your life whom you would feel comfortable phoning at four in the morning to tell your troubles to? If your answer is yes, you will likely live longer than someone whose answer is no.”

~ Martin Seligman

Well-being is a construct, much like weather. Well-being is comprised of 5 different elements, coming together as well-being theory, the centerpiece of Positive Psychology.

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Well-being is a combination of thinking and feeling good, in addition to having meaning, good relationships, and accomplishment in your life. Having high levels of well-being and performing at your best are closely correlated.

The acronym PERMA, coined by best-selling author and renowned well-being researcher Martin Seligman, PhD., consists of 5 measurable elements of well-being:

1. Positive Emotion

(Including happiness and life satisfaction): Feeling good: pleasure, gratitude, love, joy, comfort, warmth, ecstasy, curiosity, inspiration, and rapture. Positive emotion involves much more than a smile. Positive emotion helps us to perform better at work and study. Positive emotion engages our imagination and helps us to persevere in the face of challenges. Positive emotion is experienced in the present and helps us to undo negative emotion.

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2. Engagement

A state of flow: Being completely in the zone; when time stops for you; when you lose self-consciousness. Anyone who’s ever tried to stop their child from playing video games knows what engagement looks like. Engagement comes naturally when you’re doing activities love or are good at. You feel nothing at all while completely engaged. You can only look back retrospectively and remember how much fun you had.

Unlike positive emotion, there are no shortcuts to engagement. You must use your signature strengths and talents to meet your highest challenges. Identifying your signature strengths is huge. I recommend a visit to AuthenticHappiness.org. There you can identify your signature strengths, including how to use them more in your day-to-day life.

3. Positive Relationships

As social beings, positive relationships are essential to well-being. Those with positive relationships in their lives are noticeably happier than those without. Feelings of support, familiarity, and security that accompany positive relationships are all correlated with increased levels of well-being. Even relationships built on social media can increase well-being.

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Positive relationships are especially necessary for children. Children showing a willingness to befriend others tend to be more comfortable sharing their feelings. Social connectedness is essential in adolescence as children tend to look to their peers for approval.

4. Meaning

Belonging to and serving something bigger than the self. Politics, religion, and philanthropy are a few examples. Science has demonstrated that wealth and material possessions don’t correlate with much more than a temporary spike in well-being. Meaning increases well-being because it gives you a sense of purpose in life. Love is great example of meaning. When you’re in love, you’re inspired to live for, and take care of, someone other than yourself. You’re also less likely to be depressed with a strong sense of meaning because it promotes socializing.

5. Accomplishment

Having goals, no matter the size, and making efforts to accomplish them is essential to your well-being. Merely trying to accomplish your goals increases life satisfaction.

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Children model parents who have a drive to accomplish. Acknowledging your child’s small victories increases their self-belief. The more your child believes in themselves, the harder they try. Such strong self-belief builds resiliency and self-esteem.

What about happiness?

The 3 elements of happiness are the elements of positive emotion, engagement, and meaning. These 3 elements are measured subjectively by self-report.

Conclusion

Hopefully PERMA can help us to see happiness and well-being in a new light. As we strive to increase well-being and flourishing, PERMA can help us to realize what constitutes a life worth living, both for ourselves and our children.

Featured photo credit: Ludovica Verna via flickr.com

More by this author

Bob Dempsey

Psychology Major

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Last Updated on February 13, 2019

10 Things Happy People Do Differently

10 Things Happy People Do Differently

Think being happy is something that happens as a result of luck, circumstance, having money, etc.? Think again.

Happiness is a mindset. And if you’re looking to improve your ability to find happiness, then check out these 10 things happy people do differently.

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. -Dalai Lama

1. Happy people find balance in their lives.

Folks who are happy have this in common: they’re content with what they have, and don’t waste a whole lot of time worrying and stressing over things they don’t. Unhappy people do the opposite: they spend too much time thinking about what they don’t have. Happy people lead balanced lives. This means they make time for all the things that are important to them, whether it’s family, friends, career, health, religion, etc.

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2. Happy people abide by the golden rule.

You know that saying you heard when you were a kid, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Well, happy people truly embody this principle. They treat others with respect. They’re sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of other people. They’re compassionate. And they get treated this way (most of the time) in return.

3. Happy people don’t sweat the small stuff.

One of the biggest things happy people do differently compared to unhappy people is they let stuff go. Bad things happen to good people sometimes. Happy people realize this, are able to take things in stride, and move on. Unhappy people tend to dwell on minor inconveniences and issues, which can perpetuate feelings of sadness, guilt, resentment, greed, and anger.

4. Happy people take responsibility for their actions.

Happy people aren’t perfect, and they’re well aware of that. When they screw up, they admit it. They recognize their faults and work to improve on them. Unhappy people tend to blame others and always find an excuse why things aren’t going their way. Happy people, on the other hand, live by the mantra:

“There are two types of people in the world: those that do and those that make excuses why they don’t.”

5. Happy people surround themselves with other happy people.

happiness surrounding

    One defining characteristic of happy people is they tend to hang out with other happy people. Misery loves company, and unhappy people gravitate toward others who share their negative sentiments. If you’re struggling with a bout of sadness, depression, worry, or anger, spend more time with your happiest friends or family members. Chances are, you’ll find that their positive attitude rubs off on you.

    6. Happy people are honest with themselves and others.

    People who are happy often exhibit the virtues of honesty and trustworthiness. They would rather give you candid feedback, even when the truth hurts, and they expect the same in return. Happy people respect people who give them an honest opinion.

    7. Happy people show signs of happiness.

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    smile

      This one may sound obvious but it’s a key differentiator between happy and unhappy people. Think about your happiest friends. Chances are, the mental image you form is of them smiling, laughing, and appearing genuinely happy. On the flip side, those who aren’t happy tend to look the part. Their posture may be slouched and you may perceive a lack of confidence.

      8. Happy people are passionate.

      Another thing happy people have in common is their ability to find their passions in life and pursue those passions to the fullest. Happy people have found what they’re looking for, and they spend their time doing what they love.

      9. Happy people see challenges as opportunities.

      Folks who are happy accept challenges and use them as opportunities to learn and grow. They turn negatives into positives and make the best out of seemingly bad situations. They don’t dwell on things that are out of their control; rather, they seek solutions and creative ways of overcoming obstacles.

      10. Happy people live in the present.

      While unhappy people tend to dwell on the past and worry about the future, happy people live in the moment. They are grateful for “the now” and focus their efforts on living life to the fullest in the present. Their philosophy is:

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      There’s a reason it’s called “the present.” Because life is a gift.

      So if you’d like to bring a little more happiness into your life, think about the 10 principles above and how you can use them to make yourself better.

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