PERMA model: what it is and what it says about psychological well-being

Everyone seeks happiness, but very few know how to achieve it. Becoming happy is a complex task, because not everyone has the same idea of ​​what happiness is and there are many ways to understand it.

The PERMA model or theory of well-being describes how people choose what makes them happy freely. It includes the elements of well-being that contribute to feeling good, having an optimal state of mind and coping with everyday life in a positive way.

This model was developed by Martin Seligman, who is considered to be the main founder of positive psychology. Its goal is to make it easier for people to envision and move towards a future, so that they can achieve the much desired happiness.

    Characteristics of the PERMA model

    Seligman elevates 5 components in his model, which contribute to well-being. When the person develops and improves each of these components, it addresses happiness, satisfaction and motivation. The PERMA model aims help make sense of our lives and work towards goals that help us feel fulfilled.

    Each of the five components that make up the model has three properties:

    • It contributes to well-being.
    • It should be chosen by people for their own good.
    • It is measured and defined independently of the other components of the model.


    These are the components of the PERMA model:

    1. Positive emotions

    Although this seems the most obvious of the model, working on positive emotions is essential in order to be able to feel good. It doesn’t just mean smiling for life, it also means being optimistic about the future. and be positive every day.

    Life is a process in which there are ups and downs. Focusing only on the bad and underestimating the good will make it feel like there is no hope and there is no way forward and being happy.

    It is very important to be aware that while things may not always go as planned, knowing how to handle them in the best possible way keeps you moving forward.

    Satisfying the body’s basic needs, such as thirst, hunger, or the need for sleep, provides physiological pleasure, but the enjoy tasks that bring intellectual and artistic benefits they are emotionally satisfying and give a sense of self-actualization.

    Feeling pleasure in daily tasks and maintaining an optimistic outlook on life allows you to persevere and face daily challenges.

    2. Commitment (commitment)

    When something is truly appreciated, time flies. The enjoyment of a hobby, such as sports, dancing, playing an instrument, or being a member of an interesting project, helps you stay engaged and consistent.

    Everyone needs an activity that takes them away from the daily routine, Which will be positive as long as it doesn’t isolate you from the rest of society. Temporarily leaving aside work or routine stress allows you to clarify and regain energy.

    Pleasant activities can absorb those who perform them, feel a sense of flow or “flow” which gives you peace of mind.

      3. Positive relationships

      According to the PERMA model, relationships are a crucial part of leading a full and meaningful life.

      Many people believe that happiness depends largely on what one does without regard to one’s social circle, that it is not necessary to turn to others to lead a full life. Seligman’s model considers it to be the exact opposite. Since humans are social animals, we must interact with other people in order to survive and thrive.

      Take care of relationships with family, friends and partner or even with colleagues, it helps to have a social network that offers emotional support. When difficult situations arise, being able to ask other people for help makes it easier to find a quick and effective solution.

      The feeling of loneliness is one of the most serious problems in society because, although it is not a psychological disorder or illness, it does damage. In addition, despite feeling lonely, there are people who isolate themselves even more. The individualism that has been promoted over the past decades is truly counterproductive, especially since we humans have survived for years to cooperate.

      4. Meaning

      According to the PERMA model, it is important that people ask themselves what their vital purpose is or what they can offer the world. Living day to day without having a long term goal isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can make you feel somewhat lost and feel like they won’t be a beneficial person.

      Finding meaning in one’s own existence can seem like a very philosophical and even daunting task, but it already helps to feel directed towards a goal and allows different options to be tried out.

      During this process, you can try volunteering at a charity, helping a family member in need, writing a book, redirecting your job …

      5. Achievements (achievements)

      Setting goals doesn’t make much sense if you don’t try to achieve them. The goals should be realistic, but they should also be a little ambitious. Developing a plan towards the goal will always help to be able to approach its achievement.

      How to apply it to our lives?

      Knowing the components of this model and what they relate to helps us understand Seligman’s proposition, but that doesn’t mean that integrating into our lives is an easy task. A good start is in search of what makes us happy, of what motivates us on a daily basis or even what sometimes takes us out of our monotonous routine.

      Once we’ve found enjoyable activities, ask yourself what they offer us and why we do them often. Take on achievable challenges. Focus on your personal relationships and look for ways to build more meaningful relationships with them and create new ones.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Bolaños-Domínguez, RE and Ibarra-Creu, I. (2017). Positive psychology: a new approach to the study of happiness. Reason and Word, 21 (96), 660-679.
      • Goodman, FR, Saturday, D., J., Kashdan, TB and Kauffman, SB (2017). Measuring well-being: a comparison of subjective well-being and PERMA. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 13 (4), 321-332.

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