The PERMA model sets out 5 core components necessary for wellbeing and happiness. Seligmann offers the model as a way to obtain fulfilment, meaning and happiness throughout every sphere of life from the personal to the workplace. Whether you are planning a major lifestyle overhaul or you want to tweak things to find greater balance in your life, this model is a great place to start from. Let’s take a look at the five elements of PERMA.
P = Positive Emotion
Positive emotions go way beyond feeling happy. They include love, gratitude, compassion, contentment, zest, joy, hope and amusement. Perhaps you read that list and told yourself that these emotions are dependent upon personal circumstances? That emotions are a wild untameable beast that you can’t control at will? Rest easy we’re not going to send you off on mission impossible. Research from one of the world’s leading experts in positive emotions, Professor Barbara Fredrickson suggests that they can be built. Her theory, known as ‘Broaden and Build’ demonstrates how positive emotions can help us flourish in personal relationships, in the workplace as leaders or employees and even impact positively upon our longevity. Convinced? Good. Here are some practices that will help you build those life enhancing emotions.
Building Positive Emotions:
E = Engagement
Seligmann describes engagement as “being one with the music, time stopping, and the loss of self- consciousness during an absorbing activity”. You might know this state as ‘Flow’ that state of consciousness where you are completely in the moment, absorbed and truly focused upon the task at hand. It’s the elusive ‘zone’. Time passes imperceptibly leaving hours feeling like minutes. When you are in flow you are also experiencing a stretch in your skills, focusing on something that provides you with a challenge. Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of ‘Flow’ is the leading authority on this topic. He describes how the intense concentration of flow is energising, satisfying and contributes to overall wellbeing. Csikszentmihalyi proposes that it is possible to increase our level of happiness by introducing more flow. But how?
R = Relationships
The third element is relationships. “We are inherently social creatures and positive relationships have a significant impact on our wellbeing.” (Seligman, 2012). This applies to all of your relationships; friends, loved ones, family, colleagues, partner and everyone else who you might come into contact with either in your community or professional networks. Relationships expert, Shelly Gable, describes how sharing positive news with others enhances our relationships. Gable also studied couples and found those who communicated and responded enthusiastically to each other (active-constructive responding as Gable termed it) experienced greater wellbeing. Building and maintaining your social network may also protect you against cognitive decline.
How can you build your social network?
M = Meaning
Seligmann describes meaning as something greater than ourselves. Meaning has many guises, it’s your purpose for being on the planet. Perhaps it’s a cause you feel strongly about, it could be your work or pursuing an activity that you feel you were placed upon the earth to do. Finding meaning is often linked to values that you hold dear, something important to you. Research in this area indicates that people with a purpose live longer, are more likely to experience personal growth after trauma and enjoy increased wellbeing. Purpose isn’t filling that black hole with things or constant busy-ness, it’s rooted in a much deeper level. Here’s how to take your first steps in the quest for meaning.
Wondering how to build meaning into your life?
A = Accomplishment
The final element is accomplishment or ‘I did it, and I did it well’ as Seligman puts it. Accomplishment requires goals setting, competency and mastery of those goals. Angela Duckworth defines the ‘perseverance and passion for long-term goals’ as ‘Grit’. Grit is the ability to continue when achieving your goals feels like an uphill struggle. It is perseverance combined with the commitment to overcome adversity. Think of it as failing your way to success and you’re there with the concept of grit. So why are goals important?
We know that achieving goals, especially those linked to your values increases wellbeing over a period of time. Goals motivate us and help us to develop a growth mindset, a belief that we can try new things and succeed (even if it takes a while).
Originally published at positivechangeguru.com on January 4, 2017.
Originally published at medium.com