PERMA – a Brief Explanation


flourishHaving closely followed the Martin Seligman Thinker in Residency Program over the last few years I’ve been really excited (dorking out about psych, I know) to have attended a number of sessions in the last few days around Positive Psychology and implications for its use in schools and communities. With South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill under Seligman’s recommendations committing to establishing South Australia as a world leader for wellbeing in 2013 and with the recently opened South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute set to have its own wellbeing department, I’m really looking forward to seeing how this is all going to play out in terms of increasing wellbeing in Australian schools.

Positive psychology isn’t all whacky-doo affirmations with the ultimate goal a state of constant utopia and happiness – in fact, to be so could mean to be delirious and/or manic, neither which are preferable states in which to permanently reside. Instead Positive Psychology is using what Seligman calls PERMA to reach optimal levels of wellbeing and to minimise the impact of adverse life events as and when they do occur (which, given that this is life they invariably will).

PERMA is made up of five separate elements and Seligman says that it’s by working to maximise these that we live to be our best and flourishing in all aspects of our lives. He has likened the PERMA model to an immunisation against the ever increasing incidence of mental illness in our society and argues that the implementation of PERMA in schools will hopefully prove wrong the predictions of depression being the most common illness in Australia by the year 2030.

The five aspects of PERMA are as follows:

P = Positive Emotion

E = Engagement

R = Relationships

M – Meaning

A = Accomplishment

Each of these areas will be discussed in detail in the coming weeks with each one being the topic of discussion in part of a 5 week special series on PERMA on #teacherwellbeingchat which happens on term time Sunday nights at 8:30 pm Adelaide time. Whether you’re an avid fan or a novice to PERMA concepts, I’d love you to join the discussions as they are such a great way to collaborate, share and learn with others.

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