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“PERMA” a Simple Guide to Finding Your Happiness

“PERMA” a Simple Guide to Finding Your Happiness

Being happy and living life to the fullest is what every human being is striving for. Now more than ever, people seem to put pursuit of happiness as their top priority. However, although the term happiness seems clear enough, the implication seems quite vague for most people. Is it just simple as – Be happy? And, more importantly, are we capable of being happy 24/7? Finally, are we chasing it too hard, so much so that it too often ends with us feeling disappointed and disillusioned instead of happy?

Clearly defining what makes us happy can be quite challenging for most of us. More so, there is not one universal factor that brings happiness for every human being. Whereas succeeding in their career and earning big salary can bring happiness to a banker, for example, a writer would feel same amount of happiness while reading a great book. Although happiness seems undefinable and elusive, and with no definite trigger, there are still certain techniques and methods we can use in order to improve the overall quality of our lives and outlook on life, which would, eventually lead to us feeling much happier and fulfilled.

The PERMA model of happiness

According to Martin Seligman, the “father of positive psychology”, there is a formula for happiness. By presenting five elements that make up PERMA and strongly influence one’s sense of personal happiness and fulfillment – Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Achievement, Seligman offers guidelines towards happier life. Understanding these elements and taking action towards improving some of them, is what Seligman advises for finding happiness.

    PERMA consists of 5 core elements that contribute to our happiness

    The 5 PERMA elements for achieving happiness

    1. Positive emotion

      Positive attitude is key to achieving happiness. However, having positive attitude doesn’t actually mean smiling all the time, but, quite contrary, it should never mean suppressing your emotions of any sort. Cultivating positive emotions requires accepting and understanding negative thoughts and emotions, learning about deep roots and causes of them, and ultimately, becoming better at finding positive sides to each scenario and circumstance.

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      In order to nurture positive emotions, we could take the 20/80 approach that is most often linked to business success and productivity. Yet, if we look at the approach from the standpoint of achieving happiness, we could consider the 20% as the time we spend doing small mindful exercises, such as meditation, reading, writing lists of positive aspects, gratefulness, etc. Those 20% of our time each day will then determine our feelings for the next 80% of our day no matter what circumstances we may encounter. Contrary to the popular opinion that it takes a great change in order for us to feel happy, it is actually determined by everyday small acts of self-love, mindfulness and appreciation.


      2. Engagement

        Engaging in an activity that is of importance to us makes us feel present in the now, and thus creates a feeling of bliss, personal importance, purpose and happiness.

        Remember how your days spent on a vacation seem to be a lot shorter compared to your regular work days, or how a day without a loved one seems like a year? The only difference in each example is our sense of engagement and enjoyment.

        In order to increase and maintain happiness levels in our lives, we need to allow ourselves to explore and discover activities that help us feel engaged with all of our senses. Finding our drive and passion also requires prioritizing ourselves and saying no to anything that doesn’t make us feel completely immersed, inspired and driven.

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        3. Relationships

          As social beings, our sense of personal fulfillment and happiness is dependent upon social relationship and connection with others on intellectual, spiritual, physical and emotional level. Creating and nurturing relationships is of utmost importance for general wellbeing and sense of belonging. Isolation and alienation pose some of the greatest risks for developing fear, anxiety and unhappiness.

          In order to fully apply this element of the PERMA model of happiness, we need to reflect on our current relationships and try to improve their quality. Nurturing close bonds with our friends, family members, relatives and lovers ultimately creates a strong and healthy base for us as it gives us the support and care we need throughout our life.

          Creating strong positive relationships and improving existing ones, is a process that requires taking the time to dedicate to people who are important to us. Spending quality time together, supporting each other and being invested in the lives of others will create a positive and healthy connection that increases our sense of purpose, belonging and happiness.

          Don’t be afraid to ask reflective question and deeply analyze your current relationships. This will give you the opportunity to become a better friend, sibling, parent or partner and to contribute to your own and the happiness of others around you.

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          4. Meaning

            Think of the great people throughout history and why we admire them so much. In a great majority of cases it is because of their purposeful and meaningful lives that have contributed greatly to humankind. Meaning and purpose in life contribute greatly to our sense of fulfillment and happiness since we all have that urge to dedicate our lives to something much bigger than ourselves, something that surpasses mere pursuit of materialistic wealth and small pleasures.

            If we think of our motivation and what triggers it, we would soon realize that we are much more motivated once we have a clear, greater goal ahead of us, as opposed to doing actions without a greater purpose.

            Finding purpose requires ignoring small, short-term pleasures and focus on the bigger picture instead. List out your dreams and goals in life, ask yourself what you want to be remembered by, what you want your legacy to be. And don’t be afraid if your dreams seem too big or unattainable at the moment. Focus on breaking it down into simple attainable steps. Count your strengths and work on your weaknesses step by step.


            5. Accomplishments and Achievements

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              The sense of achievement once we accomplish our goals highly contributes to the general feeling of happiness and fulfillment. Our sense of achievement is directly related to the previous element of meaning and setting goals. Achieving any size goals gives us a confirmation of our strength, abilities and perseverance.

              This is why it is important to break big goals into small, realistic ones, which can be achieved without losing drive and missing our targets. Perseverance contributes to our goal achieving and happiness in general. Once we decide not to give up, we have greater chances of accomplishing something. Similarly, once we stick to a goal and dedicate all of our strength, creativity and time to accomplish it, our sense of happiness will increase as a result of our dedication to a greater cause.


              See how Martin Seligman explains the PERMA model

              In order to get a better understanding, it’s best to listen to how to founder explain the model and how we can all start with this simple model to find our happiness!

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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              Ana Erkic

              Social Media Consultant, Online Marketing Strategist, Copywriter, CEO and Co-Founder of Growato

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              Last Updated on August 19, 2019

              How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

              How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

              We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.

              When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.

              In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.

              Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.

              If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.

              According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.”[1] Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.

              No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.

              When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.

              Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.

              1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

              When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.

              Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.

              When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.

              Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.

              In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.

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              It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.

              You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.

              Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.

              What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?

              You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.

              That’s where we all should be.

              So, answer me this:

              How are you, really?

              And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.

              Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.

              Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.

              Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)

              Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

              It’s taking control.

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              2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity

              You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.

              You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.

              In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.

              Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.

              You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…

              Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’[2] When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.

              But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?

              It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.

              In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

              It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.

              Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:

              Change will happen.

              Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.

              You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.

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              And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.

              You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?

              That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.

              You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.

              When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.

              There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.

              3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking

              Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.

              In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.

              If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.

              Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.

              Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved.  It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.

              How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?

              Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.

              “Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.

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              Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.

              Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.

              It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.

              Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,[3]

              “If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”

              What would you do if you felt you were enough?

              By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.

              So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.

              Final Thoughts

              By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.

              Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.

              When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.

              You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!

              More About Living Your True Self

              Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com

              Reference

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