How do you react when others encourage you to be more positive? Your response is likely to sit somewhere along a scale ranging from annoyance to wondering why increased positivity seems to be so popular. So does the evidence show that positivity is good for you?
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.
What use is positivity?
It’s easy to presume that positive emotions are fleeting, providing us with little benefit beyond the immediate, transitory pleasure that accompanies each positive moment. However, There are a host of huge advantages we can benefit from when we experience frequent positive emotions:. We know, for example, that people who experience positive emotions on a regular basis have less of the pro-inflammatory biomarker (interleukin-6) in their saliva, which is linked to a host of chronic illnesses. Research highlights the following significant benefits are associated with frequent positive emotions:
- Increase resilience – resilient people also use positive emotions to find meaning in stressful encounters.
- Predict a longer life – positive emotions and help to prevent (and speed up recovery from) illness.
- Build physical health – research suggests we can actively build our physical health by purposefully seeking to experience positive emotions.
- Improve our relationships – psychologists are increasingly delving into the important role played by positive emotions in the development of meaningful relationships and conflict resolution.
3 ways to increase positivity
- Gratitude – Get into the habit of recalling at least three things or people you are grateful for (and why) at the end of every day.
- Frame your perspective with positivity – Make sure the number of positive emotions you experience beats the negative emotions hands down. We may not know the exact ratio of positive to negative emotions that tips the balance but it’s good to get into the habit of monitoring your thoughts and inner dialogue and counterpointing the negatives when they arise. There’s no need to beat yourself up when you experience negative emotions, they’re a normal part of life, but it’s important to acknowledge the yin and yang of emotions in order to build the positives.
- Make time to share positivity with others – sharing your positivity with others by showing kindness, compassion, gratitude or encouragement not only develops positive relationships with those around you, it also ensures that positive emotions are demonstrated in your actions as well as thoughts.
Watch Martin Seligman talking about the PERMA model