Martin Seligman’s well-being framework is one of the most well-known and commonly referred to in positive psychology.
In the PERMA model (2011), he identifies five key areas of our lives which impact on our happiness and well-being and suggests that regular participation in activities to enhance these five areas will effectively enhance our overall well-being, happiness and experience of a meaningful life.
P – experiencing a good level of positive emotions, optimism, pleasure and enjoyment in life.
E – using and developing our strengths and personal interests by doing more of what we enjoy and what we’re good at.
R – having positive, healthy and happy relationships with others.
M – sense of being connected and part of something bigger than ourselves, whether this comes from religion, spirituality or being community minded.
A – the self-belief and ability to set and accomplish personal goals, creating satisfaction, pride and fulfilment.
More recently, the importance of looking after ourselves e.g. with a healthy diet, enough sleep and regular exercise has been highlighted, leading to some adding the pillar of Vitality to the original PERMA model – making it PERMA -V.
Being aware of the PERMA model for well-being and happiness may help you begin to identify who and what makes you happy, where your strengths and passion lie and which areas of your life offer a sense of meaning and purpose. When you’ve begun to identify these factors, you can then start to find ways to target the areas highlighted in the PERMA model and make small sustainable changes to your outlook and behaviour. Penn University offer a free PERMA test on their Authentic Happiness site if you’re interested in finding your current level of well-being.
Protecting and promoting our well-being not only feels good but research shows higher levels of well-being can provide numerous benefits such as:
- Better personal relationships
- Increased prosocial behaviour
- Stronger immune systems
- Better physical health
- Longer life expectancy
- Self-awareness, emotional regulation and coping strategies
- Resilience skills
- Improved work performance
- Higher life satisfaction
- Less depression and anxiety
Have you engaged with the PERMA framework before? Let us know how and in what ways you made changes to your outlook and behaviour.