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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 January 24, 2021

              How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

              How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

              Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

              For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

              But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

              It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

              And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

              The Importance of Saying No

              When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

              In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

              Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

              Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

              Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

              “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

              When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

              How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

              It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

              From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

              We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

              And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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              At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

              The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

              How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

              Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

              But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

              3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

              1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

              Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

              If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

              2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

              When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

              Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

              3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

              When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

              6 Ways to Start Saying No

              Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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              1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

              One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

              Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

              2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

              Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

              Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

              3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

              Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

              Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

              You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

              4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

              Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

              Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

              5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

              When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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              How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

                Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

                Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

                6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

                If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

                Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

                Final Thoughts

                Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

                Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

                Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

                More Tips on How to Say No

                Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
                [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
                [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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