Last month brimmed with exciting entertainment ventures from the franchises Game of Thrones and Marvel Entertainment. The global excitement and of these cinematic events made me reflect on what made these events so epically significant. These franchises excel at glamorizing the extraordinary. The appeal in this, is to step outside of our own realities in order to be consumed and distracted by a make-believe reality.

This made me think about my own reality. Is there something wrong with my world and all of its moving parts? It may not be as glamorous or mystical. However, for the most part, it is pretty super. What makes the world of Marvel superheroes and the lands of dragons so appealing? It could be the extraordinary abilities of the characters. Or perhaps the suspenseful situations. In either case, these elements are not real. What is real are the challenges of everyday life. How can we make the most out of our days and truly enjoy our own realities? Short answer: Positive Psychology.

Positive Psychology

The University of Pennsylvania is home to the Positive Psychology Center (PPC) and the positive psychology movement. The movement was founded by Dr. Martin Seligman. As the name implies, positive psychology is a focus on thriving rather than surviving. This body of research focuses on implementing skills that are meant to help you succeed rather than cope. The PPC even states, “[…] skills that build flourishing are different from the skills that alleviate suffering.” How does one flourish in the day-to-day? Let’s find out!

Learn to Flourish

Dr. Seligman developed a theory on how to achieve a healthy well-being. The theory is called the PERMA™ Theory of Well-Being. According to his center, PERMA consists of five building blocks that, once engaged, enable flourishing. Those building blocks are: Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment. The following is an overview of each of these building blocks:

Positive Emotion

With a focus on cultivating an increase in positive emotion, this concept is focused on your perceptions of the past, present and future. Much of this is done through cultivating gratitude, forgiveness, and mindfulness to build hope. Many more techniques are also used.

Engagement

This is an experience in which someone fully deploys their skills, strengths, and attention on a challenging task. In doing so, participation in the event/activity is its own reward. In other words, the experience is so gratifying that people are willing to do it for its own sake, rather than for what they will get out of it.

Relationships

Relationships are essential to the concept of a healthy well-being. The experiences that contribute to a healthy well-being are often connected to our relationships. The PPC states it best, “Connections to others can give life purpose and meaning.” Moreover, social support from these relationships create a strong barrier to the ups and downs of life.

Meaning

Being a part of societal institutions such as a religion, family, organization, community, social cause and more creates meaning. A sense of meaning and purpose can be derived from belonging to and serving something bigger than the self.

Accomplishment

The pursuit of achievement, competence, success, and mastery for its own sake, in a variety of domains (e.g., career, sports, hobbies, etc.)

Now ask yourself: How often do I engage in each of these five PERMA foundational blocks? If the answer is not all, it is quite possible that there is room in your life to flourish. You are capable of so much more!

Benefits of Well-Being

Well-being is valuable because it has beneficial real-world consequences. Compared to people with low well-being, individuals with higher levels of well-being have:

  • Better work performance
  • Satisfying relationships
  • A cooperative attitude 
  • Stronger immune systems
  • Better physical health
  • Longer life spans
  • Reduced cardiovascular mortality
  • Fewer sleep problems
  • Lower levels of burnout
  • Greater self-control
  • Better self-regulation and coping abilities
  • More social skills

Your Choices = Well-Being

Well-being wears many coats. It looks very different for each person. The PPC notes, “A good life for one person is not necessarily a good life for another.” There are many different paths to a flourishing life. Respective choices lend to the different outcomes and the level of well-being achieved from the five building blocks. This means we each hold the power to make our lives what we want them to be and that is incredibly powerful!

For questions or if you are seeking support in improving your perspective on life, please contact the Amy Wine Counseling Center at (832) 421-8714.