PERMA-nent happiness

PERMA-nent thriving

When we talk about happiness, often what we are really meaning is to live in a state of mind where we are healthy, thriving or flourishing. Such well-being involves being able to grow while we are feeling the whole range of feeliings, including those that are sort of seen as negative, like anger, or sadness. But emotions all have positive intentions, they arise from within you, right? Your body is letting your consciousness know that there is something to deal with.

So the thing that I conclude is that suffering is not the label we put on emotion, but the denial of, or the rejection of the reality of emotional awareness. We may suffer when we blame or shame ourselves about how we feel.

Those of us with higher levels of well-being:

  • Perform better at work
  • Have more satisfying relationships
  • Are more cooperative
  • Have stronger immune systems
  • Have better physical health
  • Live longer
  • Have reduced cardiovascular mortality
  • Have fewer sleep problems
  • Have lower levels of burnout
  • Have greater self-control
  • Have better self-regulation and coping abilities
  • Are more prosocial

Well it turns out that there is a whole psychological model that is based around similar conclusions. It is called positive psychology.

The basis of positive psychology is in the acronym PERMA, each letter of which is outlined below.

The PERMA model

P   Positive mindset

The first intent of PERMA is to view one’s past, present, and future from a constructive perspective .

POSITIVE TOWARDS THE PRESENT (e.g., by savoring physical pleasures and mindfulness)

POSITIVE TOWARDS THE PAST  (e.g., by cultivating gratitude and forgiveness)

POSITIVE TOWARDS THE FUTURE  (e.g., by building hope and optimism).

Unfortunately many PERMA writers address this aspect of being positive with the label “Positive Emotions” which means that they infer that there are negative emotions. In my experience all emotions hold growth, and the major personality trait required in being POSITIVE is to be determined to identify where the growth is, rather than having a victim mentality.

Being positive is a sense of mastery of your reality, your environment, with an attitude that some growth can be drawn from every experience.


E Engagement

Engagement is an experience in which someone fully deploys their skills, strengths, and attention for a challenging task. Engagement refers to intentional involvement that an individual can get engrossed with or absorbed in.

The work or activity or hobbies that you do engage you when:

1 You want to do them.

2 You can’t wait to be involved, there is an element of excitement, even though the task may seem mundane, like crushing grapes with your feet, but anticipating the beautiful wine that will result.

3 It is consistent with who you think you are, rather than how others may view you or tell you who you are.


R Relationships

Relationships are fundamental to well-being. We were wired to not just want but need love, affection, attention, and interaction. The experiences that contribute to well-being are often amplified through our relationships. Connections to others often trigger life purpose and meaning.

We are wired for compassion. Research shows that doing acts of kindness for others produces an increase in well-being.

Developing strong relationships means increasing our capacity for love, compassion, kindness, empathy, teamwork, cooperation, self-sacrifice, etc.

M Meaning

A sense of meaning and purpose can be derived from belonging to and serving something bigger than the self.

There is so much more to life than just money and material possessions. What is behind a person loving life is the meaning they find in their lives.

Meaning is what has in human history been called the spirit behind life, the awareness that your being in the body you are in was not an accident, but an intentional decision made by the universe.

“Awareness is Freedom


A Accomplishment

We all take pride in something we’ve done or accomplished.

It is accomplishments that strengthen our self-esteem and our confidence that we have character, and intentions that can result in results.

People may pursue accomplishment even when it does not necessarily lead to positive emotion, meaning, or relationships.

What accomplishment does though, is it feeds into the positive attitude that your life is able to make a difference.

When all the PERMA aspects are combined, this is a state that I think you will agree that is highly attractive, not just to your own inner being, but to others also.