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The Theory of Happiness

“Well-being” has become a buzzword these days. Everyone is talking about well-being because it sounds good. Everyone has a personal opinion about how they want to create a happy and healthy life for themselves. I am sure you must have heard many such ‘facts’ and believed some of those too. 

Let us distinguish between opinions and facts.

In today’s blog post we will tell you about a theory of well-being in Positive Psychology. This (widely used) scientific theory explains the components of well-being.

The PERMA theory of well-being was introduced by Dr. Martin Seligman in his book Flourish. This theory is also known as the “theory of happiness” since the goal of this theory is to explore the building blocks of happiness and well-being.

There are five components of this theory. These are as follows -

Positive Emotions - To live a happy and healthy life, one needs to experience more positive emotions as compared to negative emotions. Positive emotions are those which feel good (like joy, love, and gratitude) and negative emotions are those which are uncomfortable to experience (like sorrow, or anger). 

Here, we need to understand that this does not mean we should constantly focus on feeling good all the time. That is not healthy. This also does not imply that we should never experience negative emotions or ‘numb’ the bad feelings. It is extremely important to process negative emotions healthily and cope effectively to experience peace and happiness in life. 

Pro Tip - Cultivate positive emotions in the present by doing acts of kindness and expressing gratitude.

Engagement - You must have experienced the flow state at least once in your life. The state of flow is when you are utilising your skills and you get so engrossed in the task at hand that you lose track of time. There are no distractions in this state. It results when you are doing the task just because you enjoy it so much. For example - A Bharatnatyam dancer lost track of time while she was dancing. 

Many such instances occur in our day-to-day life. To name a few - we get engrossed while having a good conversation, playing a musical instrument, reading a novel, exercising, and so on. Research suggests that these instances are not just enjoyable, but also beneficial for our overall well-being. 

Pro tip - For one week notice the instances when you experience the state of flow. Make a list of those activities and try to do more of those in the next week.

Relationships - Positive relationships are the most important pillar for a life of happiness. Turns out, good relationships are also a key factor when it comes to well-being. We are social animals and we thrive when our social connections are uplifting and fulfilling.

Think back on the happiest memory of your life. Do you see yourself sharing that moment with your loved ones? That’s what I am talking about. Even a bad day feels good if we have a heart-to-heart conversation with our best friend. 

Pro tip - Spend quality time with your loved ones, your family, and friends. Make them a priority. Work will take care of itself. You need to take care of them and be there for them as these happy memories make a huge difference. 

Meaning - Most people tend to be unhappy due to the lack of meaning in their life. A meaningful life feels like a life worth living and even when things get difficult, the quest for meaning makes it easier to get back up. 

People usually find meaning in creating something beautiful (or helpful) for others, something that will stand the test of time and make this world a better place. They also find it meaningful to serve a larger purpose, something greater than themselves that will benefit others. Most people find their work to be meaningful. For some, it is meaningful to love one’s family or a person or to serve one’s community. 

Pro tip - Ask yourself this question - “What would I like to be remembered for?” or “How would I like to make this world a better place?”. Note down your answers. These are the things that can contribute to meaning in your life. Now think about small actions that you can do every day to create a life of meaning and purpose.

Accomplishment - Everyone loves to win, right? Turns out, having a sense of accomplishment is good for your self-esteem and in turn, increases your levels of happiness and well-being. 

The fact that you worked hard to achieve something and were able to do it, boosts your self-confidence and makes you feel good about yourself. 

Pro tip - Make a list of your accomplishments. Include everything that you worked hard to achieve. It is easier to forget about such small wins. This list is a reminder of what you have already achieved and motivates you to achieve more. 

These are the five components of PERMA theory.

Apply these tips for about a week and let us know your experience!