Summary: “The acronym PERMA represents the five pathways to flourishing.”
For most of the history of psychology, researchers and experts primarily focused on helping sick people get better. If you had a troubling issue, you worked with a therapist to try and make the issue go away. At some point a few psychologists, and later quite a few, began focusing more on the positive aspects of life. Rather than only studying abnormal and dysfunctional behavior, they began studying highly successful people…people who were said to be “flourishing in life”, in an attempt to discover their behavioral secrets to success. Making a long story short, they discovered five scientifically-validated pathways that lead to human flourishing represented by the acronym PERMA. Here are the pathways:
P – Positive Emotions (doing things that lead to, or generate, positive emotions, or things that deepen and sustain your positive experiences). The main finding – taking the time to express gratitude for the positive events in your life makes a huge difference.
E – Engagement (being totally immersed in an activity…so much so, that you shift into a state called flow where you feel your best and perform your best).
R – Relationships (developing and nurturing positive relationships). Many of the postings on this site are focused on this issue, for example: Anger Trigger Management, Behavior Mode Alternatives, The Charisma Myth, The Drama Triangle, Emotions Are Contagious, Avoid Getting Hooked, Questioning Your Way to Closeness).
M – Meaning (being a part of something bigger than the self, or something that creates benefits that go well beyond yourself). This appears to be the strongest contributor to flourishing.
A – Accomplishments (making progress toward mastery of things that are important to you – for more on this topic consider reading Mastery by George Leonard).
The main point of this posting is simply to make you aware of the fact that if you desire to flourish in life, there are five specific pathways that can help you do so. In other words, according to positive psychologists there are at least five scientifically validated answers to the question: What matters most?
Enter “positive psychology” or “PERMA” in an Internet search engine and you will find a wealth of information on specific interventions for each of these five pathways. Also consider reading Flourish by Martin Seligman. Understanding these pathways and the interventions will help you joyfully participate in life. We’ll talk more about the five pathways in subsequent postings.
Joyfully participate in life today…Chris