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  • The PERMA model is characteristic of the positive psychology movement; it offers a comprehensive understanding of how we can accomplish optimal wellbeing.
  • P stands for positive emotions: it’s important we experience positive emotions like pleasure, love, inspiration, and gratitude.
  • E stands for engagement: we experience engagement when we become completely fixated on a task or activity (typically one we enjoy) and focus only on the present moment.
  • R stands for relationships: we must maintain positive, meaningful relationships with our loved ones to stay happy.
  • M stands for meaning: we need to find fulfillment in some aspect of our lives, whether it’s our careers or our extracurriculars.
  • A stands for accomplishment: our successes—whether it’s mastering a new skill or getting a raise at work—are vital to our reaching an optimal wellbeing as well.

The PERMA model is an important model in the realm of positive psychology, one that was developed by psychologist Martin Seligman. Seligman created this model to offer a comprehensive look at what it takes to achieve optimal wellbeing. Here’s what each letter stands for and how you can fulfill each element:

P = Positive Emotions

Positive emotions include pleasure, inspiration, love, gratitude, and peace. Experiencing these emotions is crucial to your overall wellbeing; meaning you should do what you can to evoke feelings of the like and bask in them! Which really comes down to putting your time and energy into what makes you feel good.

If you feel like you’re lacking in this area, you should know that there are a few things you can do to experience more positive emotions. No, you can’t guarantee you’re happy all the time, but analyzing your day to day and making any necessary changes can help. Think about your everyday and ask yourself the following:

  • Am I happy with my career?
  • Am I spending enough time doing things I actually enjoy?
  • Do I enjoy the company of those around me?

E = Engagement

Have you ever been so in tune to the moment that you lost track of time? Say, you were playing board games with friends or you were reading a really good book. This is called engagement: in that you’re truly engaged in a situation or a task and focused completely on the present. This is also really great for your wellbeing and the more often you experience this engagement, the better!

If you haven’t experienced this type of focus—or as positive psychologists often call it, “flow”—it might help to create something. Start a new project like a painting or a puzzle. You could even start writing a book. Just make sure it’s something that truly interests and intrigues you, and you’ll likely slip into this state of engagement.

R = Relationships

As you probably know, the relationships you build and maintain are important. When you’re getting along with your loved ones, you’re happier than you are when at odds with your loved ones. In other words, you should foster positive relationships with others. And prioritize them day in and day out.

How are your relationships doing? Do you feel connected to your friends and family? If not, you can put in a little bit of work to improve these relationships. Here are several tips for maintaining healthy relationships:

  1. Be honest
  2. Practice empathy and understanding
  3. Show love and support
  4. Put in time and energy
  5. Share in meaningful experiences

M = Meaning

Does your life have meaning? Do you find fulfillment in the work that you do? If not, do you spend your free-time engaging in an activity that does fulfill you? Another aspect important to your overall happiness and wellbeing is finding meaning in your life. You need to dedicate yourself to a cause, career, or activity that gives you that.

So, do you feel like you’re living a fulfilled life? If not, you might consider a career change. Or, if you’re happy or content with your career, but you still need to find meaning in your life, you could try spending your free time engaging in more fulfilling activities. Try volunteering; helping out your loved ones; or simply performing random acts of kindness.

A = Accomplishment

The final prong on the ladder is accomplishment. Whether it’s mastering a new skill, excelling at work, or reaching one of your goals, your success is vital to your wellbeing as well. You must continue to reach for the stars, celebrate your achievements, and reap the benefits as you go.

If you need a little help fulfilling this area of the PERMA model, read up on smart goal-setting. You don’t have to get a job promotion or win a competition to experience the effects of a great accomplishment—simply reaching a goal you set a month or two ago can go a long way and help to improve your wellbeing.

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett is a staff writer at Thriveworks. She devotes herself to distributing important information about mental health and wellbeing, writing mental health news and self-improvement tips daily. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism, with minors in professional writing and leadership from Virginia Tech. She has published content on Thought Catalog, Odyssey, and The Traveling Parent.

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