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I have posted before about the book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, here:

Recently my book group read Flourish and we had our annual couples meeting. We brought our husbands and had a pot luck dinner and discussed the book with a male perspective involved. My friends asked if my husband, Craig, would moderate and he was happy to do it because the book has had a profound affect on him. He also talked about Flourish  again a few days later at a Relief Society midweek meeting, They asked him to speak on “Gratitude”, which can resonate with all of  us through the holidays. This double exposure reminded me how wonderful positive psychology is.

Dr. Martin E. P.  Seligman, the “father of positive psychology” and  author of Flourish said,

“The entire thrust of this book is that optimal performance is tied to good well-being; the higher the positive morale, the better the performance.”

Seligman talks about “PERMA”– 5 measures of Well Being:

  1. Positive emotion (of which happiness and life satisfaction are all aspects)
  2. Engagement ( the best use of your strengths so you are in “flow”)
  3. Relationships( being constructive instead of destructive.)
  4. Meaning (belonging to something that is bigger than you are, question:… not meaning of life, meaning of your life- Victor Frankl)
  5. Achievement

Professor Seligman says each one of these areas are measurable and backs it up in his book. And the good news for us mothers is,

“each one is teachable.”

When I talked to my husband Craig about the last one,  “Achievement”, I said,  “Does that mean we have to have a room full of degrees and trophies?” And he said, “No. It’s having a goal and achieving it. Growing a tomato, exercising, or feeling like you are accomplishing things you set out to do each day.”

My husband said in our book group discussion, “That “PERMA”, seems to be the recipe for Mormonism, or any religion or movement.”

After hearing Craig speak twice on the subject of flourishing and gratitude I have started a simple gratitude journal. Every morning, during my scripture study, I write 3 things I am grateful for. Martin Seligman quotes study after scientific study that says, this simple exercise is more powerful than medication in dealing with depression.

What Went Well– “Gratitude Journal”

  1. What went well today? I write what went well (yesterday for me, I pass out at night) and…
  2. Why did it go well? I think about why it went well. It’s a quick reminder of what is going great in my life instead of focusing on what isn’t  going very well.

Here is the link to Seligman’s survey to take on what your strengths are—for the “Engagement” aspect of PERMA– as measured by over two million people who have taken the test.

This video  showcases Martin Seligman giving a 25 minute lecture on PERMA.

Here are the highlights  so you can move through the video and not watch the whole thing:

6:15–A shout out to those of us who live in Utah as compared to those that live in “Nuhvahdah”. Then he had to ruin it by telling us what is on a t-shirt he owns!

9:3–Why a gratitude journal works.

12:40–A grocery store bagger who used her signature strength to change how she felt about her job that she hated, “She put what was best inside of her on offer all of the time.”

14:20— What teachers should really be teaching and we as mother’s can teach it too!

16:40— KIPP schools and 8 character strengths. “Once you start measuring something it goes up.”

19:00—Great teachers have two signature strengths—zest and humor…and “zest and humor are teachable.”

20:44–Teach couples not to have the same fight, over and over and over again.  In marriage counseling, your goal is to take insufferable marriages and make them barely tolerable.  Teach couples instead of  fighting teach them about celebrating.”

21:00–Learn about his communication model —constructive and destructive, passive and active. He said “when couples learn how to do it, love, loyalty and commitment increase.”

24:20–Self-discipline and grit vs. IQ and talent “Self-discipline is twice as important statistically than IQ”.

I have been feeling more gratitude two weeks into my gratitude journal. If I miss a day, I just start with the day I am on. It is fascinating to realize we can take little steps to improve our well-being everyday. We don’t have to be stuck with a bad job or have to feel lonely during the holidays. We can start using positive psychology by understanding how our  signature strengths can make our lives better and work on being “active constructive” instead of “active  or passive destructive” in our relationships.  There are many videos about this on YouTube. Start learning more about how to increase your PERMA! A gratitude journal is just one way. Have any of you ever kept a gratitude journal? How has it impacted you?

2 thoughts on “PERMA

  1. This is a really fascinating post! I especially like the part where you mention that taking the time to express what you’re grateful for can be more powerful than antidepressants. It is very true that replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts can lead to positive health outcomes, such as decreased blood pressure and cortisol levels. On top of this, the goal is achieved without the side-effects of the medication. Really great post! It strongly relates to the content that I will be posting on my blog, so feel free to check it out and add to that conversation if you’d like!


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