Positive Psychology – basics


(adapted from https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/perma-model/ )

The PERMA model was designed by Martin Seligman with five core element of psychological well-being and happiness. Seligman believes that these five elements can help people reach a life of fulfillment, happiness, and meaning. This model can also be applied to institutions to develop programs to help people develop new cognitive and emotional tools.

P – Positive Emotion

This element of the model is one of the most obvious connections to happiness. Being able to focus on positive emotions is more than just smiling, it is the ability to be optimistic and view the past, present, and future in a positive perspective.

This positive view of life can help you in relationships, work, and inspire you to be more creative and take more chances. In everyone’s life, there are highs and lows, focusing on the lows increase your chances of developing depression, therefore, you should focus on the high and positive aspects of life. There are also many health benefits to optimism and positivity.

Distinguishing between pleasure and enjoyment is important in this element of the model. Pleasure is connected to satisfying bodily needs for survival; such as thirst, hunger, and sleep. Whereas enjoyment comes from intellectual stimulation and creativity, for example when a child completes a complex lego car that requires his concentration, he will be beaming with joy and satisfaction from his work.

This type of positive emotion is needed, as when someone enjoys the tasks in their lives they are more likely to persevere and battle challenges through creative and alternative solutions.

E – Engagement

It is important in our lives to be able to find activities that needs our full engagement.  Engagement in the activities in our lives is important for us to learn, grow and nurture our personal happiness.

Everyone is different and we all find enjoyment in different things whether it’s playing an instrument, playing a sport, dancing, working on an interesting project at work or even just a hobby.

We all need something in our lives that entirely absorbs us into the present moment, creating a ‘flow’ of blissful immersion into the task or activity. This type of ‘flow’ of engagement is important to stretch our intelligence, skills, and emotional capabilities.

R – Relationships

Relationships and social connections are one of the most important aspect of life. Humans are social animals that thrive on connection, love, intimacy, and a strong emotional and physical interaction with other humans. Building positive relationships with your parents, siblings, peers, and friends are important to spread love and joy. Having strong relationships gives you support in difficult times.

In an interview with Dr. Mitch Printein’s about his course on the psychology of popularity, he mentioned that there has been researching that shows that pain centers in our brain become activated when we are at risk of being isolated. This is because, in an evolutionary perspective, isolation would be the worse thing we could do for survival.

M – Meaning

Having a purpose and meaning to why each of us is on this earth is important to living a life of happiness and fulfillment. Rather than the pursuit of pleasure and material wealth, there is an actual meaning to our life. Such meaning gives people a reason for their life and that there is a greater purpose to life.

To understand the greater impact of your work and why you chose to the pursuit that work will help you enjoy the tasks more and become more satisfied and happier.

A – Accomplishments

Having goals and ambition in life can help us to achieve things that can give us a sense of accomplishment. You should make realistic goals that can be met and just putting in the effort to achieving those goals can already give you a sense of satisfaction when you finally achieve those goals a sense of pride and fulfillment will be reached. Having accomplishments in life is important to push ourselves to thrive and flourish.

How to Apply the PERMA Model in Your Life

Being aware of the PERMA model is the first step to applying this theory to your life. Keep referring back to the 5 elements of the model to help you apply it to each aspect of your life. Remember to think in a positive perspective at home and at work.

Find the things that make you happy and can make you fully engaged. You could even put goals to achieving more and challenging yourself in the activities you enjoy. Focus on your relationships with your family and friends by finding ways to connect and enjoy each others company. Find the meaning to your life and what gives you a sense of purpose, it’s different for everyone.

The Positive Psychology – basics is part of online learning tools for personal and professional development of youth workers. The course is developed under the project “ACHIEVE” – innovative methods for training and development of youth workers (2016-2-BG01-KA205-023835) funded by European Erasmus + Programme. The content of the course is based on a literature review.

“There is only one person who could ever make you happy, and that person is you!”

David Burns

In this course you can find out the key elements of positive psychology, the study of happiness.

Being happy is something that all people want, no matter where or how old they are. But are the benefits of happiness a worthwhile goal or is it just about feeling good? A review of the available literature has revealed that happiness does indeed have numerous positive effects, which appear to benefit not only individuals, but also families, communities, and the society at large (Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005). The benefits of happiness include higher income and better work outcomes (greater productivity and higher quality of work), larger social rewards (stronger social support and richer social interactions), more activity, energy, and flow, and better physical health (a bolstered immune system, lowered stress levels, and less pain) and even longer life. Happy people are more creative, helpful, charitable, and self-confident, have better self-control, and show greater self-regulatory and coping abilities.

The science of happiness has flourished the last 2 decades. It has been applied in various fields of science, in psychology, business, health and more importantly in education. It is called “Positive Education”. Positive education focuses on developing both well-being and social responsibility, without changing its primary goals. It contributes in identifying and developing strengths, nurturing gratitude, and visualizing best possible selves (Seligman et al., 2005; Sheldon & Lyubomirsky, 2006). It is proven that it makes people more successful and showed to have a more lasting impact and change on having pro-social behaviour. It increases happiness and reduces depressive symptoms significantly (Sin and Lyubomirksy, 2009). Compared to unhappy learners, happier learners pay better attention, are more creative, and have greater levels of community involvement. It increases engagement, creates more curiosity and helps develop and overall love of learning (Fisher, 2015).

With this course we aim to introduce positive education into youth work and initiate a “Positive Non-Formal Education (NFE)”. Having unhappy youth who focus on the complains and the hassles will not solve the problems of unemployment, inactive participation and social exclusion. Instead, having happy youth will contribute in reinforcing their learning, their personal development, their professional progress, their authentic self, their health state, their sense  of initiative, volunteering and involvement in society and their connection with people and nature. We believe that this time has come!

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