How To Be Happy – The PERMA Model

How To Be Happy – The PERMA Model

If you are looking for a simple scientifically researched formula for being happy, look no further. Developed by the founder of Positive Psychology – Dr. Martin Seligman, the PERMA model is made of five parts that when attained lead to the single most sought after feeling known to man (and woman) – Happiness.

The five parts are:

1. Positive Emotion. This goes without saying – happy feelings make you happy.

2 simple ways to increase positive emotions

1. Smile more often – The physiological and emotional benefits of smiling are well documented. Research shows that even when people are instructed to stretch their mouths in a way that resembles a smile (without actually smiling) they report more feelings of wellbeing and happiness.

2. When you are feeling good, pause and let it in – In the book Hardwiring Happiness Dr. Rick Hanson describes a technique of re-wiring the brain for happiness by simply slowing down during those moments when you feel a sense of wellbeing. When you notice yourself feeling good, rather than rushing off to the next thought, stay in the good feeling for 15-20 seconds imagining you are a sponge soaking in the goodness.

2. Engagement/Flow – You are in flow when engaged in an an activity that has clear and attainable goals, is fun, requires focus, gives you immediate feedback, as well as a sense of timelessness (you get lost in it) and selflessness (you forget about how tired or hungry you are).  While it sounds complicated, you are actually in flow more often than you think. Doing a puzzle, reading a book, going for a run, playing sports, and playing a musical instrument are all examples of flow activities.

3. Positive Relationships – We play out much of our lives in relationships. From our closest companions to the person we noticed behind us in a store lineup, our thoughts, and feelings (and much of our behaviour) occur in relation to those around us.  Positive relationships ensure that our experiences are (mostly) positive which in turn translates to positive feelings about ourselves and the world in general. How can you tell when your relationships are positive? Ask yourself, Do my relationships energize me or do they reduce my energy? Are my relationships fulfilling and supportive of who i am? Do my relationships reflect my positive or my negative attributes?  If i could describe my relationship in one word, what would that be?

4. Meaning – Believing that life is more than the monotony of the day to day has many physiological and psychological benefits and can even increase the length of your life according to research. How to increase your life’s purpose/significance? Simple, engage in thoughts and behaviours that focus on something other than yourself. It can be another individual, a group of people or a cause. Interestingly, that focus does not have to be positive – even focusing negative energy on an enemy can increase your life’s meaning (thought i don’t recommend it).

5. Achievement/Accomplishment – Mastering a skill, achieving a goal you have set for yourself or succeeding in a task that has value for you can accomplish this final part of the model. The key here though is to remember that all 5 elements of the model need to coexist in order for you to be happy. If you focus too much of your energy on achievement at the cost of say, maintaing positive relationships, then you’ve missed the point.

PERMA model

To find out how you can increase all five elements in YOUR life, book a session here.

Tamar (Tami) Amit, M.A. RCC

About Tamar (Tami) Amit, M.A. RCC