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What is Well-Being?

According to Martin Seligman, psychologist, researcher and leading authority in the field of positive psychology, well-being becomes possible based on 5 components: Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment (hence PERMA™)

Each of these 5 components holds a different weight for each individual. In other words, the contribution of each of these components to well-being vary between people. We all have our own way to define what is a good life for us.

Positive Emotion is how much we have positive emotions in our lives. We can increase it by changing the way we look at the past (e.g. forgiveness, gratitude), the present (e.g. savouring the present moment, mindfulness) or the future (e.g. hope).

Engagement occurs when someone apply himself/herself to raise to a challenge: fully concentrated, totally absorbed and involved in a task. At this point, the person can experience “flow”. Another way to describe it, is to feel in the zone. These moments are so gratifying that people will be interested in reproducing them. Flow can occur in a wide variety of activities, e.g., a good conversation, playing a game of chess, playing a musical instrument, reading a book, writing, gardening, drawing, etc.

Relationships is fundamental to well-being. Humans are social beings. We are naturally inclined to help and connect with others. It can give a purpose to our lives. The best way to prevent depression or sadness is to have support from others and to connect with them. Research shows that an active act of kindness toward others would increase well-being.

Meaning can come from belonging to something bigger than ourselves. This may include been part of a group such as a family, politics, work organizations, justice, the community, social causes.

Accomplishment is the interest of people to develop their competence, pursue achievement, have success. Accomplishment can occur in a variety of domains, including the workplace, sports, games, hobbies, etc. 

Each of these five components contributes to well-being.

The Benefits of Well-being

Well-being is something we should try to achieve because research shows that individuals with higher levels of well-being:

  • Perform better at work

  • Have more satisfying relationships

  • Are more cooperative and prosocial

  • Have stronger immune systems

  • Have better physical health

  • Live longer

  • Have reduced cardiovascular mortality

  • Have fewer sleep problems

  • Have lower levels of burnout

  • Have greater self-controlself-regulation and coping abilities


Studies show that optimism increases well-being and optimistic attitudes has a lot of benefits compared to pessimism, including:

  • Less depression and anxiety

  • Better performance at school, sports, and work

  • Better physical health outcomes, including fewer reported illnesses, less coronary heart disease, lower mortality risk, and faster recovery from surgery.

The E-book '1001 activity ideas'

This free e-book presents an extensive list of activity ideas that could improve well-being. It gives you direct access to material that will get you going. It is very practical, and "hands on". No waste of time on theory.



Positive Psychology Center. University of Pennsylvania. 

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