Flourish with Mindfulness and Positivity
The latest wellbeing theory from the founder of the positive psychology movement, Dr. Martin Seligman, consists of five elements, summarized by the mnemonic PERMA. Dr. Seligman believes that these elements together help to develop a life of wellbeing:
Positive emotion: Feelings such as joy, hope, curiosity and love fall into this category. These emotions are important to enjoy in the present moment and are an essential element of wellbeing. You can’t feel happy all the time — in fact, trying to hold on to happiness rather than letting it come and go can cause you problems.
Instead, mindfulness helps you to become aware of these emotions when they arise without you getting attached to them.
Engagement: This element is a fascinating one. When your attention is fully focused on a task, hobby, work or person, you go into a state of mind called flow. In this state, you’re fully in the present moment, lose track of time and forget about almost everything else, including your own sense of self.
The more often you get into this state, the more likely you are to experience wellbeing. Through mindful awareness, you cultivate your ability to focus and thereby get into this sort of engaged state more often.
Relationships: Positive relationships form the core of a life of wellbeing. Not only a partner, but your friends, family, colleagues — people you regularly interact with. If you give time and energy to cultivating good quality relationships, you’re much more likely to live a life of greater wellbeing.
This fact isn’t surprising because humans are social beings. Mindfulness helps you to be less reactive and more empathic, guiding you towards developing more positive relationships.
Meaning: This category is about dedicating yourself to a cause that’s bigger than yourself — perhaps belief in God or working to improve humanity’s lot in some way, whether large or small.
You may be a road sweeper and reflect on how you’re creating a cleaner environment in the neighborhood to create a personal sense of meaning. On the other hand, you can be the leader of a nation and if you just focus on how to have more power you’re going to lack meaning in your life.
Accomplishment: Achieving a goal that’s valuable to you contributes to your wellbeing. Maybe you want to get married, learn how to speak Spanish or win an award in your area of specialty. Through mindfulness, you’re able to clarify which goals are important to you and focus on those that are achievable and enjoyable to do. Crucially, mindfulness also emphasizes the importance of the journey to the achievement, rather than just the outcome.
Use the following questions to boost your long-term wellbeing in each of these five areas.
Positive emotion: What activities do you enjoy and need to do more of?
Engagement: Think about activities that you’ve done in the past that make you feel fully connected. Is it a sport, a particular hobby or a job? What activities absorb your attention?
How can you do them more often?
Relationships: Do you have several positive relationships, with your friends or family? If not, what do you think you need to do to forge positive relationships? For example, spend more time with the people, read or attend a workshop on relationships or ask someone good at relationships for some tips? Regular meditation can also help improve your relationships.
Meaning: How does the work you do every day help others?
What small acts of kindness can you do that other people would appreciate?
Accomplishment: You need to keep this one in balance. For many people, wellbeing is linked exclusively to achievements, whereas in fact it’s just one element.
Do you feel that you’re moving towards achieving your dreams in life? What small steps can you take to achieve them?