I was lucky enough to hear Martin Seligman, the founder of the Positive Psychology movement, speak at the RSA recently about his new ideas and findings.  He spoke about the content of  his new book, Flourish – A New Understanding of Happiness And Well-Being – and How to Achieve Them, as well as some of the recent, ground breaking work he has been doing with the US Military around resilience.

He emphasised the 5 key tenets of his PERMA theory, which are:

  • Positive Emotion or the feeling of happiness, the mood state,
  • Engagement or flow, total absorption in an activity
  • Relationships or other people, connectedness, friendship and support
  • Meaning or belonging to something bigger, serving something beyond yourself
  • Accomplishment or achievement

Here is some of the concise and practical advice he gave which will allow us all  to enhance our well-being.

The simple act of writing down three things that have gone well each day can have incredibly positive effects, and becomes addictive and self perpetuating.

Tuning the ratio of positive to negative statements or thoughts can also make a startling  difference.  In organisations, research has shown that those with a better than 2.9:1 ratio for positive to negative statements can be expected to flourish (but be careful not to apply this minimum standard to your marriage as it will lead to divorce….a strong and loving marriage needs a ratio of 5:1).

Using  active and constructive communication in your interactions with others when they tell you something good that has happened to them will enhance your relationships and take a good relationship to excellent!  The technique is; ask them to tell you more about what happened, get them to relive it, make lots of eye contact, and respond positively, enthusiastically and with interest!

Identifying your signature strengths and finding more and new ways to use these is also key, and if you don’t know what these are you can take the test for free at the Authentic Happiness site.

“Always leave enough time in your life to do something that makes you happy, satisfied, even joyous. That has more of an effect on economic well-being than any other single factor. ” – Paul Hawken

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