Positive Psychology - Aim to Flourish
12 August 2019
Dr Martin Seligman has built a system to help us walk the road to achieving this step. Dr Seligman uses the acronym PERMA to describe the key points:
- 1.P – Positive Emotions
- 2.E – Engagement
- 3.R – Relationships
- 4.M – Meaning
- 5.A – Accomplishments
This expression tends to get a bit of an eye roll or a ‘oh, why didn’t you just say so?’ but positive emotion is about more than just a smile.
Taking some time to grow a positive mindset and point of view has been shown to have a huge impact on our lives. It helps to build relationships and can lead to intellectual stimulation and increased creativity.
It’s great for kids too! Getting them to participate in activities that they take genuine enjoyment in, like building tree houses or doing a jigsaw puzzle. By stretching their imaginations, they are more likely to look for creative solutions to challenges they come across as they move into adulthood.
While we all go through high’s and low’s in our lives, by maintaining our positive point of view we can decrease our chances of developing depression and will build our physical, intellectual, social and psychological reserves.
Dr Martin Seligman has defined this as ‘Flow’ which is to become so wrapped up in what we are doing that we lose all sense of time and find calm, focus and joy. Engagement can be found in anything that creates that sense of ‘blissful immersion’. Whether you’re playing a sport, playing an instrument, working on an interesting project at work or your favourite hobby.
Finding this flow stretches our intelligence, skills and emotional capabilities.
As a general group, humans are a pretty social lot, this means that the connections we build with people around us can be a big part how meaningful we judge our lives to be.
Creating positive relationships with peers, siblings, parents, extended family and friends are key factors to finding overall joy and offer a support network for us during difficult times. It has been reported that people with significant mental illnesses that the support of their family and friends was critical in helping their recovery.
Children can also rely heavily on their social circles to spread happiness, cheer and laughter and may feel more comfortable sharing their troubles with a peer rather than an adult.
These relationships can contribute to better physical and cognitive health all through our lives.
Meaning is to feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves. We can achieve this through a variety of different things including religion and spirituality, working for a good company, volunteering, fundraising or lobbying for a cause that’s important to you. Meaning can be found in activities that allow for creative expression and are strongly linked to our personal values. Itai Ivtzan’s 2013 video Awareness is Freedom has provided inspiration to reflect and change for thousands of people. Check this out if you are looking for more ideas on this aspect.
If you are searching for meaning in your everyday, you can start with your work. Think about why you get up to go to work every day (aside from paying the bills). While money is a requirement for all of us, and takes pressure of us, it doesn’t always lead to happiness. Understanding these motivations can help with job satisfaction. Whether you work in an office or a retail store, or even at home, what activity do you spend the most time on? What do you get out of these activities? (HINT: Use your positive emotions from earlier to identify the jobs that make you feel accomplished and that you have achieved something that day).
Developing our sense of meaning and working towards a greater sense of purpose is different for everyone and can be a personal journey, but don’t forget that you have friends and family around you to support you when you need it.
Having a sense of accomplishment is a great way to push ourselves to thrive and flourish. By using the acronym SMART (Systematic, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound) when we set goals, we can start small and work our way up to tackling things that can have direct and positive changes on our every day lives.
This is a big deal to our kids as well. Bringing attention to their achievements, even the small ones, will promote self-belief, which drives them to try harder and continue to reach for success that will help them face challenges as they grow up.
So, to wrap up this epic read, in order to take advantage of all this information we recommend you remember a very important thing. Be kind to yourself. Making changes in our lives is not an easy task and we all fall down every now and again. Get back up and brush yourself off. You can do this! If you are struggling or having issues, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone for help. There are people out there who care for you and will help you through your tough times.
Pascha, M., (2017). Positive Psychology: The PERMA Model: Your Scientific Theory of Happiness. (Weblog Post)
Retrieved from: https://positivepsychology.com/perma-model/
GoStrengths: What is PERMA?. (n.d.). Weblog Post.
Retrieved from: https://gostrengths.com/whatisperma/
The Wellbeing and Resilience Centre: PERMA+ Positive Emotion. (n.d.). https://www.wellbeingandresilience.com/perma-plus