Who would have thought that five letters could have such a profound impact on my life?

I was first introduced to PERMA in my Positive Psychology studies. And ever since, I consider this acronym as the best thing that has come my way since Netflix.

If you were asked “do you know what happiness is?” you’d probably say “yes”. But if you were asked to describe what particular elements equate to happiness for you, this is where you might struggle. Recent testing amongst friends and family (yes you are my guinea pigs) backs this up. And no the answers do not include the dream home, a substantial trust fund or Gisele Bundchen’s body or husband. If only it was that easy…

PERMA is a framework that measures psychological wellbeing (or happiness), and was brought to life by Martin Seligman, the modern-day father of Positive Psychology and one of my heroes. It is made up of five constructs, which each need to be worked on so one can thrive in life.

Positive Emotions – feeling good, being optimistic, experiencing enjoyment and pleasure

Engagement – finding flow from the things in life that completely absorb us

Positive Relationships – having good and authentic interactions with people

Meaning – having a sense of belonging and living with purpose

Achievement – feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction when you reach goals

You can find out more about PERMA and each of these pillars in Seligman’s hugely popular book Flourish and this YouTube clip. Or a quick google will bring up millions of results. You can also complete surveys to assess where you are currently at in terms of your own levels of wellbeing including my personal favourite found on Michelle McQuaid’s website.

So why has PERMA been life changing for me? Since my first encounter with this theory, it has been a constant reminder of what I need in life to be happy. Whether it is at work or in my personal life, I use PERMA to assess my relationships or new pursuits to determine what I will or will not do. If something doesn’t tick one or more of those five boxes then I turn the other way (for the most part). None of us have enough time to waste on people or activities that don’t contribute to our levels of happiness.

I have put this theory to the test and it has succeeded. I do this because I have to walk the talk.

If you are on the hunt for a happier life, a good place to start is by applying the PERMA theory. Why not try it? It could be life changing for you too!