In his forthcoming book, Flourish, Martin Seligman reveals his latest approach to well-being.
Readers of his Authentic Happiness (2002), the book which brought Positive Psychology out of the academic closet and into the mainstream, will remember the three pathways to happiness, which were:
1. Positive Emotions – leading to a pleasurable life
2. Engagement (or flow) – leading to an engaged life
3. Meaning (and purpose) – leading to a meaningful life
All three together lead to ‘the Good Life’.
Now Seligman has updated this model to include two more elements: Relationships / social connections and Accomplishment. The model is now called ‘Well-being Theory’ because Seligman believes that ‘happiness’ is too woolly.
Well-being Theory can be remembered with the acronym PERMA:
1. Positive Emotions
2. Engagement (or flow)
3. Relationships/social connections
4. Meaning (and purpose)
NB – PERMA is only a theory, and not everyone in the positive psychology world agrees with it! Accomplishment in particular causes a fair amount of discussion. Seligman suggests (and indeed recommends) that all 5 facets can be measured both subjectively and objectively, but these measures have yet to be agreed.
Image: Glädje (Joy) by Henrik Ström