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When we use our highest strengths to meet a challenge we are in a state of flow, Martin Seligman describes the feeling of flow as, “being one with the music, time stopping, and the loss of self- consciousness during an absorbing activity”. Full engagement in an activity supports us to develop, learn, create and flourish. 

The PERMA model

The PERMA model comes from the work of psychologist Martin Seligman, often referred to as the founder of positive psychology. PERMA refers to the five elements necessary to create a fulfilling, happy and meaningful life, they are:

P = Positivity

E = Engagement

R = Relationships

M = Meaning

A = Accomplishment

In this series of blogs we’ll take a look at the evidence for element contribution to wellbeing and examine how to strengthen and develop each part of the PERMA model for a fulfilling life.

About engagement

When we’re completely engrossed in a task, totally in the moment, utilising all of our highest skills to meet the challenge at hand, we are in a state that positive psychologists call flow. The international expert on flow Mihalyi  Csikszentmihalyi describes the state as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

Engagement – the research

  • Getting the best from employees – The best predictor of employee engagement is the number of daily opportunities that an employee has to do what they do best.
  • Using strengths – when we’re able to apply our character strengths to a task psychological and physical wellbeing is enhanced.
  • Boosts positive emotions and self esteem – when we use our strengths we’re more likely to increase our overall esteem and positivity than those who don’t regularly employ their strengths to tackle challenges.
  • Long lasting effect – people who spent a week looking for new ways to use their strengths were found to be happier six months later.

3 ways to develop engagement

  1. Incorporate an activity you love into your day. Make a list of activities that you really love, when have you totally lost track of time because you’ve been so entranced by a challenging task? Try to build an element of such an activity into each day.
  2. Establish your character strengths and learn how to use them daily. The VIA survey is a great place to start working out your top character strengths.
  3. Be present. Spend time noticing how you spend your time and how you respond to each activity, which activities make it easier to be in the now? Which activities leave you feeling energised?

Discover more about flow by watching international expert Csikszentmihalyi discuss engagement:

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