Well-Being – A further perspective

a young woman with high levels of well-being

A couple of weeks ago we published an article on the topic of financial well-being and just a few days ago on our Facebook page we asked the question, financial well-being or financial status – you decide? Well-being is important to us here at MHD.

In our previous article we began exploring some steps you could take towards financial well-being and we will continue to examine various aspects of our lives within this context but today we are going to advance our understanding by putting forward a brief summary of one man’s well-being model – PERMA.

The psychologist Martin Seligman first put the PERMA model together and covered it in detail in his book Flourish. Seligman suggests that there are five areas in a person’s life that need to be addressed in terms of well-being and they are:

  • Positive Emotion
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Achievement

Let’s take a look at these, one at a time.

Positive Emotions

Positive emotions and the recognition of these is vital to good mental health and well-being. But here we mean more than simply experiencing pleasure but enjoying life to the full. In our modern world, for many of us, the experience of pleasure is easy to come by but is often short lived and unsatisfactory. We have diminished our ability to experience true enjoyment due to never or rarely having to delay gratification. Positive moments  no longer seem to count for much for so many of us. We have more and more things that do not satisfy and the population has never been more stressed or unhappy. Apparently, my grandfather was happy with an orange at Christmas!

Addressing what really makes us happy and finding ways to increase the positive emotions in our lives from everyday tasks (are you happy at work?) would be a huge step towards experiencing better well-being.


After positive emotions we have engagement. Following directly on from the positive emotions this is all about finding tasks and activities that absorb us. Work can be our best friend but we also need other engaging activities such as our hobbies and pastimes. Do these hobbies swallow us up for a time and do they engage our intellectual and cognitive skills? With so many things vying for our attention these days it is easy to forget our hobbies and let the world of others consume our free time. Definitely something to address.


Relationships is third on our list. Many of us like a bit of alone time but almost all of us benefit greatly from high quality social contact. But it’s the high quality bit that often frustrates. Who are the people most important to you and what percentage of your time and energy do they get? How do you spend the time with them? In engaging in meaningful activities which will live long in the memory or watching reruns on the television? Think about the last thing you did with someone you really care for that created a great memory. Hopefully you don’t have to think too far back. What can you learn from this and how can you create better, more meaningful relationships.

a young family with high levels of well-being


After relationships comes meaning. Victor Frankl, the great psychiatrist who survived Auschwitz used his experience to better our understanding of how important meaning is for great emotional health, creating a discipline within psychotherapy focused almost solely on this one factor. Now ask what it is that gives you meaning? What is the biggest motivating factor in your life and how are you cultivating this? If we are lucky, we can look to relationships for some of this but having something else in our lives could be very useful too. Maybe you make the most wonderful fishing lures or your garden is a joy to behold. Perhaps you run a club for kids or you are immersed in local history. If you’ll pardon the turn of phrase, what floats your boat?


And finally we have achievement. Psychotherapists and psychologists have long recognised the value of regular doses of achievement for their benefits to the mood. We have addressed it so many times on our own websites in our goal setting articles and even more recently in the 4 Secrets To A Great Day post. Having goals also gives us more than a sense of achievement. Goals also give us something to look forward to, a positive view of the future whilst a goalless horizon is pretty bleak and outside of our sphere of influence.

Summary of Well-Being

Well-Being needs to be cultivated. It doesn’t need to be changed wholesale in one day. But you will need to make changes today. If you were going to improve your diet by switching a sweet treat for an apple there’s no better time than the present to try it out. After reading the article identify a few small steps that you could change and move forward to greater well-being.

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