Putting Positive Psychology into Practice – PERMA

In learning more about Positive Psychology, the term PERMA was shared as an easy way to think about 5 key aspects that can aid in helping put Positive Psychology into practice. 

Of these 5 PERMA aspects (listed below), I’ve talked about 4 in recent blog posts.  The last one, relationships, is also part of the #5 Positive Practice – Social Connections: be intentional with social bonding & friendships (link here to the list of 11 practices).

PERMA stands for:

  • Positive Emotion – A recent blog post (link here) covered how to cultivate positive emotions.   To increase “P”, do things that make you happy and do a daily gratitude listing.
  • Engagement & Flow – Know what absorbs & inspires you! Be present in the activities you enjoy. This was linked to the practice of activating your character strengths (link here to my post) to find your state of flow. To increase “E”, pursue things of interest and consider what skill(s) to develop.
  • Relationships – connect, listen, and share for a sense of belonging and feeling loved and supported. To increase “R”, plan intentional connections, do active listening, and engage in meaningful conversations.
  • Meaning & Purpose – Having a sense of purpose in life was also linked to the practice of activating your character strengths and goal setting (link here again to my post).  To increase “M”, do volunteer activities, give back, and share knowledge.
  • Achievement & Accomplishment – Having goals, working towards goals, and achieving goals was linked to the practice of goal setting (link here again).  To increase “A”, track and celebrate your achievements.

Some interesting “Self -Measurements” of PERMA is to think about:

  • How often feelings of joyfulness versus feelings of anxiety
  • How often feel lonely, sad, angry versus how often feel loved, content
  • Progress towards goals and achievement of goals (even if just check-lists)
  • Having an interest in things/activities you are doing
  • Absorption in what you are doing (feelings of flow)
  • Being in good to excellent health – physically, mentally
  • Leading a meaningful life; having a sense of life direction
  • Having a support structure and feeling satisfied with relationships
  • Can handle your responsibilities.

What’s been missing so far in the series of blogs I’ve written?  Best practices for Relationships & Connection!  I realized this and then had the serendipity to see the latest Chopra Meditation Series (Nov/Dec 2020) on Creating Peace & Power of Connection. Here are a few quick notes from that series:

  • Acknowledge that there are different kinds of relationships (friends, family, romantic/intimate, casual) as well as different lengths (short-term or long-term).  It is natural to be regularly beginning & ending relationships. 
  • Different relationships will fulfill different needs – no one relationship can do it all. Need to understand which relationship is filling which of your needs: to be loved, understood, appreciated, supported, inspired.  Which relationships are about sharing experiences, humor, or interests? Who is fulfilling a role to be a confidant, a devil’s advocate, an adventure buddy, a creative partner, a mentor, or even a mentee? Strong relationships do have a giving & receiving balance.
  • Relationships are also about, “who am I” and “where do I fit and feel belonging”. They provide opportunities for deep meaningful conversation, savoring ordinary moments, and having traditions/rituals.
  • Relationships take regular connection; they need attention to keep them alive.  They need attentive listening, expressions of appreciation, respect, non-judgment, and forgiveness. What you say and do communicate, “you matter”.
  • Disconnection in a relationship leads to loss of trust, resentment, and frustration.  It happens when you are not communicating enough, have missed expectations, or unexpressed resentment.  You need to determine if you want a disconnected relationship to be healed, and then change yourself to reconnect and resolve the conflict – real listening, non judgment, respect other perspective, and finding a compromise/common interest.

In recent Positive Psychology course, it was (again) pointed out that ‘Time spent in meaningful conversation with others” is correlated to higher wellbeing!  Oh, I am missing conversation (and dinners out) during this pandemic.

And then my random reading (site forgotten, but serendipity again) had ideas on Time Together, a relationship 101.  Here are a few easy ones to consider.

  • Eat dinner together and have a (hopefully meaningful) conversation.
  • Go to bed at same time – it symbolizes special union.
  • Cuddle daily – the skin-to-skin contact releases oxytocin, which helps bond & fosters affection & intimacy.
  • Have a date night – research shows it improves relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction and lowers divorce.
  • For the holidays create couple rituals/traditions to mark those occasions.
  • Celebrate the little things – celebrate your first date, the date you got engaged, and your wedding, but also celebrate little moments, like the achievement of a personal goal.

These are wonderful reminders of how to keep my most important relationship strong!

And finally, reading a bit on my 2021 horoscope for the year pointed out a theme for me of committed partnership, quality of interactions, and meaningful deep communication.  Seems to me the Universe it telling me to focus on relationships, hmm?

So, what am I doing as far as Relationships in 2021 based on this learning? These are two of the items on my 21 for 2021 (and my winter action plan, too).

  • Continue regular planning of connections (face-to-face IRL and Zoom) and attempting to boost the “meaningfulness” of some of those conversations.
  • Intentionally planning more dates (day trips, dinner conversations, activities together) with hubby. We’ve had very few these past 9 months because of the pandemic.  

Thinking about PERMA, is there an area you would like to personally focus on this New Year?

Picture Credit: me – Last sunrise of 2020

14 thoughts on “Putting Positive Psychology into Practice – PERMA

  1. Hi Pat, Thank you for joining in my debut Weekend Coffee Share blog party. It’s one of many ways to make new connections or new friendships. At closing time, the party had 25 participants from 5 continents. It exceeded my expectations for the first party that I host. If you could do a ping back, I’d appreciate it. Have a wonderful week ahead! #Weekendcoffeeshare

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    1. Natalie, I was excited to join. I read a few new folks – it is a wide range of folks and different than MLSTL which is the only other weekly link party I’ve done. I am hoping to join in regularly (although I’m not crafting a post just for the party like so many others did. – hope that’s ok!) and learning things about new folks. Thanks for hosting.

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  2. Great post! I definitely feel we as humans need a deep connection to each other. I don’t do much with horoscopes or the like, but I do think the very fact that I’m drawn to your post is a sign from God that I need to work on this too.

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    1. Astrid, I do believe we hear things when it is the right time we need to hear the message! Connection is important for so many reasons and right now, for many of us, that has become more challenging. I’m appreciating my weekly wine-zoom calls with various girl-friends – I pick a different girl-friend each week and we have a happy hour together virtually (or morning coffee for a couple). It’s really helped.

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  3. Pat, you make a lot of interesting points about relationships and offer some much-appreciated reminders. The ebb and flow of any relationship is often challenging. I tend to have a variety of casual friends, and a couple of ‘good friends,’ with my husband in the role of best friend. My casual friends are associated with my activities; tennis, mahjongg, volunteer work, golf, community groups, book club, etc., and rarely develop into long-standing relationships. I am fine with that as it affords me the interaction I need, with no pressure to be committed to anything further.

    You made a permanent move to Florida at a difficult time. Retirees here are very busy and very social. Joining groups is the best way to establish connections with like-minded people, but with group activities and even potential volunteer work off the table, your assimilation will be set back. No doubt with your skills and personality, you will find your place and thrive.

    Excellent post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Suzanne, I am very much looking forward to the end of the pandemic and have a full list of groups to explore! Until then, I’m intentionally setting up zoom-connects weekly with current friends… since none of us are socializing in-person, zoom wine over state lines works. Writing this post reminded me how important it was to do that.

      I appreciate your comment about the ebb and flow of relationships. I need to accept that aspect more.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Insightful, as always, Pat. I appreciated the quick suggestion of a practical step to improve in each area. As far as building relationships, the simple act of choosing to be present and listen deeply brings pretty amazing results. Of course, a date night is always a good idea. Larry and I will be celebrating our 22nd anniversary in a couple of weeks. Now I’m thinking of ways to make it special.

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    1. Christie, I’m all about the practical! I’ve always been one to say… so what do I DO with this knowledge. Sometimes that can be challenging – learning for the sake of learning is something I am trying to do more. Congrats on 22 years! Making things special right now can be a bit of a challenge; a friend did say to me, “candlelight makes any dinner more special”! 🙂

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  5. Haven’t checked my horoscope for the year. Should do that. Our relationship, like all relationships, I guess, ebbs and flows. Right now I am feeling very close to my PC. And have, for the most part, throughout this crazy Covid stuff. We do have fun together. I was very touchy, feely when we met and he is not that way much, although he will reach over to touch me while we watch TV, and we snuggle at the movies. But we have had to compromise on that. As well as other things. His love language is quality time. Mine was physical touch but is probably more words of affirmation (sincere words) now. I have to be careful not to compliment him too much because it doesn’t really speak to him. It speaks volumes if I spend the day with him, or go to his baseball game, or watch a movie he wants to watch.

    Anyway, I think working on relationships would be an area on which I could apply PERMA. That and putting real effort into decluttering and finishing some projects.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leslie, Isn’t an understanding of the love languages great? I have a friend who is all about gifts. It’s my least likely language, but I know fo her it’s important, so yeah, I’ve bought her things “just because”. On the “finishing some projects” – I wonder if you really want to finish them? I’ve finally had to say to a couple of things… no, I really don’t want to do that. I don’t care how long it’s been on the to-do list, I really don’t want to do it! Quite freeing (after that fact) actually!

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  6. Hi Pat – I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly” book and she talks a lot about connections and how important they are. I think we have to be even more vigilant in this area as covid tries to steal our interactions with others. Humans aren’t designed to be isolated, we thrive in community and I think we now need to consciously foster connections so we don’t find ourselves alone and adrift.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leanne, when I retired I lost almost 80% of my connections with people. I didn’t have the kids/grandkids relationship to grow and even folks who I thought of as friends were really work related acquaintances. I spent a lot of time on intentional connections the first 2 years… and now find myself having to be more intentional again – with “zoom” connects or reaching out in other ways. It’s always a good thing to remind ourselves – relationships are so important!

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  7. Thought of you today as I was reading a post on making friends as an adult in the Retirement Quest facebook site. Hope you are doing well. Would love to meet for lunch while we winter in Florida but I believe you are a fair bit north of Fort Myer. Best wishes on your positive year!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We are just north of St Petersburg. We met friends from Naples in Sarasota before… when we could meet with friends. It’s got a lot to enjoy – the Ringling Museum and the Mote Aquarium are both worth the time. I might need to look at that article on making friends…. that’s still a work-in-progress here in Florida.

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