5 Ways To Use The PERMA Model To Cultivate a Happy Life

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve become incredibly fascinated with the science behind finding happiness and well-being. There have been many concepts I had never heard about before and then shared with both this blog community and my Instagram; concepts which I think more people should know about (especially in these Covid times).

One of the recent concepts is psychologist Martin Seligman’s ‘PERMA Model’. I first heard about this model in one of the online courses I did through Coursera and made a mental note (and physical because I WILL forget if I don’t write it down!) to do some more research. So here we are!

The ‘PERMA Model’ represents 5 pillars which Martin Seligman says we need in alignment to feel a complete sense of happiness and well-being. The model is as follows:

Positive Emotions

Engagement

Relationships

Meaning

Achievements

You can find out more information on these pillars here.

With these pillars in mind, here’s my take on the ways you could use this ‘PERMA Model’ to cultivate a happier life:

POSITIVE EMOTIONS = SELF-DEVELOPMENT

Hello I’m the queen of self-development so you should have seen this one coming! In all the research I did on this model, all sites spoke about positive emotions in the sense of “…think positively”, “…do things that you enjoy”, and “…focus on the highs in life and know that the lows don’t last forever”. WHAT. A. CROCK! I believe forming (and keeping) positive emotions is so much harder than simply ‘thinking positively’. You need a WHOLE mindset shift! Thinking positively and having a positive mindset just seem like two different concepts to me.

A few years ago before I got heavily involved in the self-development world, I went for a job interview and I had all the good feels about it because they seemed to really like me, it was down to me and 2 other people, and I just thought, “this has got to be MY time”. I was thinking positively about it and when I didn’t get the job, my positivity was SHATTERED. Going through ups and downs where you’re positive, then negative, then positive, then negative does not work long term. You need an entire mental shift.

Incorporate some healthy habits like early morning workouts, listen to self-development podcasts, journal out your feelings, research how to become more self aware, and/or lean into gratitude more.

JUST thinking positively doesn’t work!

ENGAGEMENT = MAKE TIME FOR YOUR HOBBIES

I spoke about this recently (and I hope to also do a stand alone post about it soon) but there’s research into how going into a state of flow can positively impact one’s life. Generally this happens when we’re doing things we enjoy – like our hobbies.

Even if you’re not in complete flow, just having something fun to do on a regular basis, brings some interest and enjoyment to our lives. All work and no play makes for a boring existence, don’t you think?

Schedule in some fun so it’s there in the calendar as a “task” to tick off!

RELATIONSHIPS = HAVE REGULAR CONNECTION DATES WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY

Something that makes me feel like my bucket is full, is having regular catch ups with friends and family. Setting weekly or monthly “dates” gives you something constant to look forward to and helps to keep a relationship strong. I do weekly meet ups with a friend, usually consisting of a workout of some form, and weekly morning walks with my Mum.

I generally prefer doing something like that because it makes me feel regularly connected with the people I love, but I recognise that so many can’t adhere to this and probably prefer a little flexibility. If that’s the case, once a month I just like to make a mental note of who I might not have seen in a while, and schedule in a connection date with them! I’m also a sucker for regularly checking in with people via messaging so that they know I’m thinking of them!

MEANING = FINDING YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE

I often stress that your purpose doesn’t have to be your job and I still firmly believe that. If it is, then great! But I think you can feel a sense of purpose just from what you’re passionate about. It’s up to you to decide if your purpose in life is just a hobby or something you want to pursue further.

Ask yourself: “What do I feel like I was born to do?”, “What am I drawn to do with my life?”, “What do I love to do in my spare time?”, “Have I already found my purpose through my passion for (*insert any hobby you have here*)?”.

I’ve found that your purpose in life is often something completely selfless. It’s never about you or your world, but about the betterment of others.

ACHIEVEMENTS = SET GOALS ON THE REGULAR

I think pillar 5 of the ‘PERMA Model’ is slightly sprinkled throughout the others. Setting goals regularly (whether weekly, monthly, and/or yearly) relating to your self-development, improving your skills at one of your hobbies, connecting with friends and family, and pursuing your life’s purpose, just sort of ties everything together with a neat little bow!

You might set a goal to journal everyday or listen to a new podcast show every week.

You might set a goal to learn a new song on your instrument or learn a new art medium.

You might enjoy connecting with people so much that you decide to set a goal to meet someone new every month and see how many new connections flourish from those meetings.

You might decide to start a blog with the hope of inspiring people to realise how they can find a life of happiness and fulfilment, and set goals to design the blog, create the content and brainstorm ways to take the hobby further (hehehe sound familiar?).

Or you might simply set a goal to read one new book every month.

Feeling that sense of accomplishment is motivating, and having goals is a great form of personal growth!

Before I love you and leave you, I’m going to leave you with one last thing – Martin Seligman’s TED Talk ‘The New Era of Positive Psychology’. It may be 16 years old but it’s still relevant, and he provides more insight into living your happiest life as opposed to just working on your weaknesses.

If you enjoyed this post, let me know! If you have any questions or thoughts feel free to contact me via email or join me on Instagram as I show more of the behind the scenes of how I’m striving for life success/happiness everyday. Be sure to subscribe to this blog so you’re notified of new posts as they go live each week.  

I love you 3000!

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