Foundations for wellbeing: A new scientific approach

Psychologists have been searching for the keys to wellbeing, looking to understand what factors help people to thrive.

One prominent theory of wellbeing is embodied in the discipline of positive psychology developed by Dr Martin Seligman, where research has shown there are five pillars underpinning our psychological wellbeing and happiness – Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment, known as PERMA.

We can improve our health, happiness and satisfaction with life by focusing on some of these aspects of our lives.

The 5 pillars for wellbeing: PERMA

  • Positive emotion:  The ability to embrace life with optimism, which doesn’t mean no ups and downs but an overall ability to bounce back and view life positively, enjoying a full range of positive emotions including joy, enjoyment and gratitude.
  • Engagement: Being involved in activities, often the ones that we love doing or those that utilise our strengths, that transport us and absorb us makes for a deeper more interesting life.
  • Relationships: Our connections to other people – partner, friends, family, boss, colleagues, children and/or community – help buoy us and give us a sense of being loved and secure.
  • Meaning:  Feeling that what we do or what we are working towards matters, not just to us but to others and in the wider scheme of things, gives meaning to our lives.
  • Accomplishment – Being able to set and achieve goals and enjoy some mastery and control over our lives has shown to help us derive a sense of purpose from life.
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