PERMA is a theory of Well being developed within the field of positive Psychology by Dr Martin Seligman and his team. His theory suggest when we pay deliberate attention to 5 elements and take positive action towards them we will not only improve our individual well being, but also that of our organisations and communities.
PERMA stands for:
Positive emotions – Barbara Fredrickson has found that positive emotions actually play a vital role in our success, not just individually, but in terms of our workplaces and our communities. Positive emotions enable us to broaden our ‘thought action repertoire’ which means we are more likely to try new things, step out of our comfort zone, contact friends, take on new challenges and experience more in general. When we broaden our experiences we learn and grow which builds lasting social, physical and emotional resources. This in turn develops our confidence, resilience and positive emotion which places us in an upwards spiral where we become more positive, we do more, learn more and well being increases.
Engagement – Seligman has created a table of 24 signature strengths and has found that when we are using these strengths, not only are we not focusing on our negatives, but we become more engaged, often entering a state of Flow and our general well being significantly improves.
Relationships – Under pinning human happiness lies relationships. Seligman has found across numerious studies that the one common factor in ‘very happy people’ is the presence of quality relationships. This element looks at how we can strengthen and nurture our relationships and communication skills and improve our well being in the process.
Meaning – When we live a meaningful life we are filled with a sense of purpose and become fulfilled by our daily activities. This enables us to feel like we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves. Having meaning and purpose in our lives provides stimulation, resilience and a great deal of satisfaction.
Accomplishment- When we set goals and face challenges we naturally reach higher, learn more and grow as individuals. Each goal we set and each achievement we make builds personal lasting resources and skills that foster confidence, self esteem and self acceptance, all essential ingredients in our well being.
Health- Being a psychologist, Seligman initially didn’t think about the body from the neck down. However as this theory has been reviewed a 6th element has been added. Health encompasses sleeping well, eating well, exercising and being free from physical and mental illness and disease.
Together, these 6 elements that make up PERMA-H combine to provide a foundation of optimal wellbeing. We all want to be happier, Seligman see’s PERMA-H as a formula for happiness that is available to everyone.