Have you ever googled “quotes about pursuing happiness?” While there are many out there that may inspire you, there is not a single “answer” as to how one becomes happy. Afterall, happiness is not simply achieved. Happiness is about flourishing, living – it is a constant and consistent movement forward. Since the early 1960s, psychologists have been working to broadly and openly define and describe what they believe is a more well-rounded term and ideology than happiness – well-being!
Well-being is about pursuing five components that are intrinsically motivating and contribute to a sense of overall wellbeing, not just momentary happiness. Each of these components allows for personalization and a subjective approach based on you, your personality, your lifestyle, your goals, etc. These five components, also referred to as PERMA, have been linked through positive associations to physical health, vitality, job satisfaction, life satisfaction, and commitment within organizations of various kinds. We mustn’t ignore the mental health aspect of our overall well-being and lifestyle, so let’s continue our discussion from last week on the “other” aspects of wellness.
(For additional explanation and education on the PERMA model, including exploratory links, visit Positive Psychology.)
Happiness is much more than positive emotion. Positive emotions include hope, interest, joy, love, compassion, pride, amusement, and gratitude – all emotions that can be felt in the present moment but ALSO carried into the next and considered broadly throughout your life. These emotions can be cultivated or learned to improve your wellbeing. Ways to build positive emotion include:
- Spending time with people you care about
- Doing activities that you enjoy (hobbies)
- Listening to uplifting or inspirational music
- Reflecting on things you are grateful for and what is going well in your life
Engagement is all about living in the present moment, about “being one with the music,” if you will. Research on engagement shows that those who experience this type of “flow” are those who use their top character strengths regularly and in new ways. With this component, happiness is a byproduct of living in the moment, of being engaged and learning. Ways to increase engagement include:
- Participate in activities that you really love, where you lose track of time when you do them.
- Practice living in the moment, even during daily activities or mundane tasks..
- Spend time in nature, watching, listening, and observing what happens around you.
- Identify and learn about your character strengths and do things at which you excel.
Positive relationships are all about feeling supported, loved, and valued by others. It is no secret that humans thrive off human connection, positive human connection, that is. Having a healthy social life and social environment plays a critical role in cognitive health, as well. How to build relationships:
- Join a class or group that interests you.
- Ask questions of the people you don’t know well to find out more about them.
- Create friendships with people you are acquainted with.
- Get in touch with people you have not spoken to or connected with in a while.
Meaning. At some point in our lives, we all search for meaning. It helps provide a sense of value and worth to our lives. Research shows that those who report not only having a sense of purpose in life but pursuing that purpose in everyday living tend to live longer and have greater life satisfaction AND fewer health problems. Ways to build meaning in your life include:
- Get involved in a cause or organization that matters to you.
- Try new, creative activities to find things you connect with.
- Think about how you can use your passion to help others.
- Spend quality time with people you care about.
Accomplishments (achievements) allow us to live with a sense of pride. It isn’t just about reaching a goal; the greatest sense of pride comes from moving through the process toward your goal. Benjamin Franklin said that “The Constitution only guarantees you the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” It is up to us to put in the time, energy, and work toward reaching our goals, toward growing and learning, inwardly as well as alongside and with others. The recommendations for ways to build accomplishments should look familiar:
- Set goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound).
- Reflect on past successes.
- Look for creative ways to celebrate your achievements.
As you have probably experienced, our habits, our self-worth, and our goals are often significantly linked with all the aspects of this model. Our health, inside and out, truly requires an overall sense of WELLbeing! The PERMA model is a fantastic resource as we evaluate where we are and consider where we want to be from start to finish in 2022.