We all want to be happy. When we’re happy we look on the bright side of life, take ourselves less seriously, become more motivated, loving and generally better people.
Scientist know our genes and upbringing influence around 50% of the variation in our personal levels of happiness and our circumstances, (like income and external environment) about 10%. Which leaves as much as 40% accounted for by our daily activities – the relationships we keep, the things we do and the choices we make.
So our actions strongly impact our happiness levels, which is great news because it means we can easily improve them!
Respected positive psychologist Professor Martin Seligman developed a well-being theory called the PERMA Model. It combines five building blocks, which need to be in place for a happy and flourishing life.
The five elements are –
- POSITIVE EMOTION (P)
Experiencing feelings of joy, hope, love, inspiration, satisfaction, gratitude or any positive emotion allows us to experience wellbeing.
- ENGAGEMENT (E)
When we’re fully engaged in a challenging task and time seems to stand still, we experience a state of flow (see blog post ‘How do you find your flow?’). We lose our sense of self and are completely immersed in the present. Flow makes us feel good, boosts our self-esteem and helps us experience positive, satisfying emotions. The more we can experience flow, the more likely we are to experience wellbeing.
- RELATIONSHIPS (R)
Connecting with others, having meaningful and loving relationships is core to our happiness. Humans are social animals, so deep and intimate relationships are incredibly important to our survival and wellbeing.
- MEANING (M)
Finding purpose in our lives outside of ourselves and serving a bigger cause helps us achieve wellbeing. Giving back to the community through voluntary work, taking food to a local food bank or perhaps being part of a local residents association brings a sense of meaning to our lives.
- ACCOMPLISHMENT (A)
Personal development and striving to better ourselves in some way, allows us to experience accomplishment. Whether learning a new skill, winning in a competitive event or setting ourselves a challenging personal goal, through accomplishment, we flourish and improve our wellbeing.
The PERMA Model helps us think about the different elements affecting our happiness levels. Breaking down ‘happiness’ allows us to more easily assess the areas that need a little TLC.
Why not make a date with yourself this week and spend some time assessing your life? Use the PERMA Model to locate areas that need improvement then make a list of how and when you’re going to work on them.