The other day I took an interesting seminar on positive psychology and in particular, the PERMA Model. The PERMA Model was developed by positive psychologist, Martin Seligman. “PERMA” stands for the five elements he believes we need to have in our lives to experience lasting well-being and to flourish.
What Does PEMRA stand for anyway?
- (P) Positive Emotion
In order for us to experience long lasting well-being we need to have positive emotions in our lives. Positive emotion can come from a variety of things such as having gratitude, being at peace, being satisfied, inspired, in love or having hope are just a few examples. Enjoying ourselves in the here and now is essential as long as we also have the other components of PERMA in place.
- (E) Engagement
Think about when you are truly engaged in something you find interesting. It can be an activity, reading a book, watching a movie or working on a project. When we are truly engaged, we experience a since of flow where we lose our sense of self. Time seems to sit still, and we are engaged intensely on the present. It’s a beautiful thing. The more we experience this type of engagement, the more we will experience happiness and well-being. It’s important that we find things that allow us to experience this since of flow on a regular basis.
- (R) Positive Relationships
Humans are social creatures and the more we have good, meaningful, positive relationships, the happier we tend to be. In order to achieve long-lasting well-being, it’s important that we have positive relationships. It doesn’t mean you have to be an extrovert or social butterfly. We all have our own unique ways of building and engaging in healthy relationships.
- (M) Meaning
Meaning happens when we are doing something that is bigger than ourselves. This could be serving a religious or spiritual cause, a humanitarian cause or being a part of something that gives you a sense of purpose. Finding meaning in our lives help gives us a sense of well-being.
- (A) Accomplishment/Achievement
Most of us want to grow and improve ourselves in some way. It could be learning a new skill, losing weight or challenging ourselves to get over a fear. Accomplishing things is important in helping us flourish and giving our lives a since of well-being. They can be small or big goals.
How to Use the PERMA Model in Your Life
Happiness can be an elusive goal and somethings we focus too much on trying to be happy when instead we should focus more on finding a sense of well-being and living a rich, meaningful life. We can do this by utilizing the PERMA model to start improving your lives.
Start by looking at your life. Look at what you already have that give you the five elements of PERMA. What can you do to improve those things if you already have them or to create them if you don’t?
Positive Emotions: Look for opportunities to have more positive emotions by looking at the people, things and events that bring you happiness. Find ways to bring some positive emotions and joy into your daily routine instead of waiting for the weekend or vacation time to feel enjoyment. It could be finding time to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning or bringing in plants for your desk at work.
Engagement: Find ways to become engaged with the things you like. That can be a hobby or spending time with friends or working on a project. It can be your work If it brings you happiness. Try to find ways to limit distractions so that you can get into a state of flow. Find activities that make you feel engaged and happy.
Positive Relationships: Do you have enough positive relationships in your life? It could be with friends, family or co-workers. Many of us spend most of our waking hours at work so it may be important to build quality work relationships. Outside of work is just as important. If you can work on improving your current relationships than do it. Commit to spending more time with a friend or family member on a regular basis. Often times we are all busy with our individual lives, but It takes effort to connect and strengthen relationships. If however you don’t have any positive relationships don’t waste too much time trying to build something that isn’t there or worse, something that is toxic. Be open to building new positive relationships with people that make you feel good.
Meaning: Do you feel like you’re connected to something bigger than you? You can get that feeling from your work, your hobbies, charities or your religious or spiritual connections. Finding meaning is important to our sense of well-being and we can find that by performing acts of kindness, being part of a group, volunteering or even just being connected more with those close to us.
Are you devoting enough time to achieving and accomplishing your goals and dreams? Identify what it is you want to accomplish in life. You don’t have to start with huge goals, but you can start with small ones and each time you achieve one, celebrate, even if it’s by yourself and privately. Accomplishing things help us feel fulfilled and increasing our sense of well-being.
For more information on PERMA check out “Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being” by Martin E. P. Seligman. Published by Free Press, 2011.