Perma Model: What It Is And What Does It Say About Psychological Well-being

This model proposed by Martin Seligman explains the processes of motivation and happiness.

PERMA model

Everyone pursues happiness, but very few know how to achieve it. Becoming happy is a complex task, because not everyone has the same idea of ​​what happiness is and there are many ways to understand it.

The PERMA Model or theory of well-being describes how people freely choose what makes them happy. Collect those elements of well-being that contribute to feeling good, having an optimal state of mind and facing the day to day in a positive way.

This model was developed by Martin Seligman, who is considered the main founder of Positive Psychology. Its objective is to make it easier for people to consider a future and move towards it, in order to achieve the much desired happiness.

PERMA Model Features

Seligman raises 5 components in his model, which contribute to well-being. When the person develops and improves each of these components, he approaches happiness, satisfaction and motivation. The PERMA Model aims to help give meaning to our lives and work towards goals that help us feel fulfilled.

Each of the five components that make up the model fulfills three properties:

  • Contributes to well-being.
  • It must be chosen by people for their own good.
  • It is measured and defined independently from the rest of the components of the model.


These are the components of the PERMA model:

1. Positive emotions

Although it seems the most obvious of the model, working on positive emotions is essential to be able to feel well-being. It does not only mean smiling at life, it also means being optimistic about the future and being positive every day.

Life is a process in which there are ups and downs. If the focus is only on the bad and the good is underestimated, it will give the feeling that there is no hope and that there is no way to move forward and be happy.

It is very important to be aware that although things do not always turn out as one would expect, knowing how to face them in the best possible way allows us to move forward.

Meeting basic needs of the body, such as thirst, hunger or the need to sleep, provide physiological pleasure, but enjoying tasks that provide intellectual and artistic benefits are emotionally satisfying and give a sense of self-fulfillment.

Taking pleasure in daily tasks and maintaining an optimistic outlook on life allows you to persevere and face the challenges of your day.

2. Commitment (Engagement)

When something is really enjoyed, time flies by. The pleasure offered by a hobby, such as sports, dance, playing an instrument or being a member of an interesting project helps to stay committed and constant.

Everyone needs some activity that allows them to get away from the daily routine, something that will be positive as long as it does not isolate them from the rest of society. Putting aside work stress or routine momentarily helps to clear up and regain energy.

Pleasant activities can absorb the person who performs them, feeling a sense of flow or “flow” that gives them peace of mind.

3. Positive Relationships

According to the PERMA Model, relationships are a crucial element in achieving a full and meaningful life.

Many people believe that happiness depends for the most part on what you do without taking into account your social circle, that it is not necessary to turn to others to achieve a full life. The Seligman model considers the opposite to be the case. Since humans are social animals, it is necessary to interact with other people in order to survive and thrive.

Taking care of relationships with family, friends and partner, or even with coworkers, contributes to having a social network that acts as emotional support. When difficult situations arise, being able to ask other people for help makes it easier to reach a solution quickly and efficiently.

The feeling of loneliness is one of the most serious problems in society since, although it is not a psychological disorder or a disease, it causes harm. In addition, despite feeling alone, there are people who isolate themselves even more. The individualism that has been promoted in recent decades is really counterproductive, especially considering that human beings have survived for years cooperating.

4. Meaning

According to the PERMA Model, it is important that people ask themselves what their vital purpose is, or what they can offer the world. Living from day to day without having a long-term goal is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can make one feel somewhat lost and may have the feeling that he is not going to be a helpful person.

Searching for meaning in one’s existence can seem like a very philosophical and even intimidating task, but doing so already contributes to feeling in some way towards a goal and allows trying different options.

During this process you can try being a volunteer in a charity, helping a family member in need, writing a book, reorienting yourself to work …

5. Accomplishments

Setting goals doesn’t make much sense if you don’t try to achieve them. The objectives must be realistic but they must also have something ambitious. Developing a plan for the goal will always help you get closer to its achievement.

How to apply it to our lives?

Knowing the components of this model and what they refer to helps to understand Seligman’s proposal, but this does not mean that it is an easy task to integrate it into our lives. A good start is to look for what makes us happy, what motivates us every day or even what sometimes takes us out of the monotonous routine.

Once we have found pleasant activities, ask ourselves what they offer us and why we have been doing them frequently. Set yourself manageable challenges. Focus on your personal relationships and look for ways that you can make more meaningful connections with them and build new ones.

Bibliographic references:

  • Bolaños-Domínguez, RE and Ibarra-Cruz, E. (2017). Positive psychology: a new approach to the study of happiness. Reason and Word, 21 (96), 660-679.
  • Goodman, FR, Disabato, D., J., Kashdan, TB and Kauffman, SB (2017). Measuring well-being: A comparison of subjective well-being and PERMA. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 13 (4), 321-332.

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