The PERMA Model, a Scientific Theory of Happiness

11 October, 2020
Do you think it's possible to increase your well-being and happiness levels by considering five things? This is what the PERMA Model is about. Today's article will discuss it so you can put it into practice.

Owning your emotions is important regardless of whether they’re positive or negative, as long as happiness is the end result. However, it’s also important to be aware that there are ways to increase your level of satisfaction. The PERMA Model, by Martin Seligman, for instance.

Furthermore, your level of well-being can change drastically simply by increasing the quality and quantity of five specific factors. It seems incredible, but Seligman developed this model for this specific purpose. Continue reading to find out what it is and how you can put it into practice to become happier.

“Authentic happiness derives from raising the bar for yourself, not rating yourself against others.”

-Martin E.P. Seligman-

A happy woman.

Discovering the PERMA Model

Martin Seligman, considered the father of positive psychology by some, developed this model, also referred to as the theory of happiness. It’s a description of what people freely choose for being happier.

It seems that this model is an extension of the three-way of life model for happiness. According to it, Seligman considered three routes from which to start the path of happiness. In fact, they’re quite similar to the factors of the PERMA model.

  • Firstly, the pleasant life aims to increase the positive emotions of the present, past, and future.
  • The good life is about putting your potential to work in order to achieve flow experiences.
  • A meaningful life is about the development of goals that go beyond the personal.

PERMA is the acronym for the five factors that comprise the foundation of this theory. You’re about to read about them in more detail. Note that working on and developing each of them will help increase your levels of optimism, motivation, and satisfaction. However, these factors must meet the following conditions:

  • They must contribute to well-being.
  • They should promote a person’s well-being and aren’t a method to achieve any of the other variables.
  • Finally, they must be measured and defined independently of the rest of the variables in this model.

As Seligman says, they shouldn’t all be worked at the same level, and developing them should never feel like a duty. You must be more thorough with those you identify the most with. He explains that this model is a mere description of what happy people do; it isn’t a prescription.

P- Positive Emotions

This part consists of increasing positive emotions, not camouflaging negative ones. These are merely tools to overcome them.

Positive emotions allow you to experience satisfaction with life and, thus, be able to remain positive despite adverse circumstances. Some examples can be love, tranquility, fullness, and pleasure.

E- Engagement (Commitment)

This is a pact you must make with yourself, with your power and strengths, in order to achieve harmony and enter a state of flow or optimal state of activation.

This state of flow or sensation of flowing is what you usually feel when you get involved in activities. In other words, you really focus on them and experience a feeling of being stopped in time. As you can see, it’s about committing yourself to searching for activities that lead you to a state of flow.

R- Relationships

As social beings, relationships are the main irreplaceable sources of well-being and satisfaction. This is because it constitutes a source of support and protection.

Satisfactory relationships are a must for proper development, so you must take care of your relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. This factor implies the improvement of social relationships, so you must also include the improvement of your social skills and tools.

M- Meaning and purpose

This point is about finding the kind of life meaning that goes beyond your own individual goals. You must extend beyond yourself. It’s about what you can do for the world.

Thus, all your goals and achievements will have a much more transcendental background and it’ll provide them with greater social value and morals.

A- Accomplishment (Success and sense of accomplishment)

This one is about setting goals that increase your feeling of competence and level of autonomy as you accomplish them.

A satisfied man.

Putting the PERMA Model into practice

In order to work on the positive emotions module, do an exercise of imagining any situation.

As for commitment, you should make a list of the activities that usually make you go into flow. Then, after that, commit to doing it weekly, monthly, or annually (depending on your possibilities).

Then, the first thing you must do to improve social relationships is to evaluate them. This is because exploring their quantity and quality should give you clues as to which of them require more attention and work and where.

A good way to find meaning in your life is to ask yourself simple questions every day such as: What’s my purpose? Why am I here? How can I improve my way of being in the world? Then, answering them will most likely awaken your desire to get involved in meaningful activities.

Final notes about the PERMA Model

Being aware of your achievements, no matter how small, is a great way to be fulfilled and motivated. In fact, it encourages you to continue setting goals and strive to achieve them.

As you can see, it’s an easy model to follow and it has many benefits. Now it’s up to you to put it all into practice and benefit yourself. Remember to work on yourself. You’ll appreciate it!