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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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              Last Updated on February 21, 2019

              The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

              The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

              In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

              Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

              Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

              Conflicts are literally everywhere.

              Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

              Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

              Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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              Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

              Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

              Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

              The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

              Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

              Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

              How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

              Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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              Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

              Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

              How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

              Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

              Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

              Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

              How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

              Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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              Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

              Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

              How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

              Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

              Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

              Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

              How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

              Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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              Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

              Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

              How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

              Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

              Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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