It can be challenging to stop and ask ourselves ‘am I really happy?’ when we’re going through the often chaotic reality of everyday life. Sometimes we need to be able to put mistakes and setbacks behind us and focus on what really matters – spending quality time with people we love and doing more of the things that make us feel accomplished, challenged and inspired. Martin Seligman, who founded the Positive Psychology movement believes that there are five core elements of wellbeing, which he summarises in a simple acronym known as PERMA:
While we can’t promise instant happiness, having more PERMA in our lives can help us to get closer to it.
In celebration of Wednesday’s International Day of Happiness, here are some tips you can use in the workplace and in your day-to-day life to add an extra boost of happiness:
- Stay Positive: Staying positive is a key element of happiness, but sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in the negative. Try drawing your attention to something that has recently gone well at work and remind yourself of the hard work you put into getting there.
- Keeping Yourself Engaged: Another aspect of PERMA is engagement, which you can maintain by doing activities and hobbies that keep you in the moment and stimulated. On your weekends, try to make time to do more of the things you personally find interesting and fulfilling rather than the things you feel you ‘should’ be doing.
- Focusing on Relationships: Focusing on spending time with loved ones and working to develop positive relationships is one of the main aspects of happiness. Why not try taking time out of your day to focus on your relationships by making a to-do-list of three things you want to do for family or friends this week. It could be something as small as picking up their favourite snack or flowers on the way home. Interaction is something that we’re increasingly becoming less good at – keep relationships with your colleagues flourishing by making the time to ask the question ‘how are you?’ and really listening to the answer.
- Finding Meaning: Meaning is about feeling that you’re a part of something greater than yourself. This doesn’t necessarily need to be in a spiritual or religious way but can be accomplished through your connections to others and your relationships. You can do this by taking part in volunteering initiatives, or by getting involved in a cause that is personally meaningful to you.
- Focus on Your Accomplishments: Happiness also stems from feeling accomplished through setting goals and completing tasks. By setting small goals in your daily life this will help you to feel motivated, can provide focus and accountability and will give you a great sense of achievement when you reach them. Remember that setting unrealistic goals can have the opposite effect and can be a big demotivator so make yours challenging but realistic.
Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Flourish. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.