Positive Psychology is the newest field in Psychology which focuses on the scientific study of happiness and flourishing. Its founder, Dr. Martin Seligman from the University of Pennsylvannia, published in 2011 a book entitled Flourish: A visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being. In this book he introduced the New Theory of well-being which provides the answer to the elements that will make individuals happy and how to live a flourishing life. These significant factors include (1) positive emotions, (2) engagement, (3) relationships which are positive, (4) meaning in life, and (5) accomplishments. A handy mnemonic is PERMA. Seligman mentioned that this framework can also be applied to various groups and organizations to create programs and services that will assist individuals develop new cognitive and emotional tools.
Let us discuss each one.
P – Positive Emotion.
1. This component of the new well-being theory is one of the most recognizable connections to happiness. However, having positive emotion does not only entail smiling, but rather acquiring an ability to be optimistic and looking at the past, present, and future from a positive standpoint. This optimistic view in life can assist individuals in their relationships, careers as well as in their daily routines. This can also encourage them to be more creative and take more chances or moderate risks in life that promote personal growth and development.
2. Everyone experiences both highs and lows in life. However, focusing on the unpleasant experiences can increase the chances of developing depression. Thus it is essential to focus on the pleasant and the brighter side of life. In fact, one needs to be more optimistic and hopeful in order to flourish. There are also many health benefits to optimism and positivity.
3. This idea is well supported by the theory of “Broaden and Build of Positive Emotions” developed by Dr. Barbara Fredrickson. She believes that individuals who experience many positive emotions (e.g., gratitude, enjoyment, interest, awe) are more open-minded, creative, and flexible thinker, capable of envisioning the big picture of their life. Dr. Frederickson also mentioned that, on the average, those individuals who posted higher wellbeing and who are also flourishing in their life experience at least 3 more positive emotions than negative emotions.
4. There are many ways to experience positive emotions. Some of these methods include, but not limited to the following:
Savoring the moment
Being with nature
E – Engagement
“Love what you do and do what you love”, so goes an adage.
In order to experience heartfelt positivity or happiness, it is very essential to look for activities that require our full engagement. Doing what one dislikes or abhors is exactly the opposite of this. As each one is unique and different, let alone having different preferences and choices, it is best to engage in activities that one finds enjoyable and meaningful such as choice of sports, hobbies, or any other interesting projects. This is also very true in terms of work and career. One’s occupation must be in line with one’s strengths and natural talents. Otherwise, it would be toil and taxing for the individual. For instance, a highly introverted person cannot take a PR job because his natural inclination does not provide him with the personality. If he, however, pursues this, it might lead to his unhappiness.
Being in a flow of engagements can expand our intelligence, skills, and emotional capabilities.
R – Relationships
As one of lines of a famous Barbara Streisand song goes, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” Relationships and social connections are one of the most significant dimensions of life. Human persons are social animals that flourish through connection, love, intimacy, and a strong emotional and physical bonds with other humans. Building positive relationships with your parents, siblings, peers, and friends are essential to spread love and joy. Having strong relationships gives you support in most trying times.
M – Meaning
According to Friedrich Nietzche, “He who has a why to live for can bear with any how.” This means that a person who has a reason to live for can tolerate any kind of atrocities or challenges in his life. This goes also for those who are experiencing a flourishing and a happy life. They have causes and reasons, let alone meaningful purposes in life that sustain their happiness. In other words, a purpose-driven life results in happiness and fulfillment.
A – Accomplishments
Having ambitions and goals in life are essential to a flourishing and fulfilling life. It provides individuals with increased self-image, self-confidence, better self-esteem, and self-esteem. Thus, goals make persons happier; especially they have successfully completed them. For instance, a student who works so hard to earn a degree and graduates with latin honors feels so happy with her accomplishments.
So I do hope that with P.E.R.M.A., we can increase our level of happiness this 2017 and flourish personally and professionally.
To everyone, Kung Hei Fat Choi!
Doc Ron Motilla is a licensed psychologist, and at the same time a certified specialist in clinical psychology. He received his PhD in clinical psychology from the Ateneo de Manila University. He teaches psychology courses, both in the undergraduate and graduate levels, at Miriam College and is also currently the head of the Integrated Lifestyle and Wellness (ILAW) Center of the same school. Doc Ron Motilla is a founding member of the Psychological Empowerment to Resources and Aspirations (PERA), Inc and is also one of the most sought after motivational speakers in the field of psychology.
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