We were delighted when Rens Ter Weijde agreed to speak at thefuturestory – The Power of One to discuss the power of positive psychology in business. He gave an insightful presentation and workshop session which presented the PERMA model 2011 which was created after 50 years of research. This research tool measures a ‘flourishing’ person, and challenged us to draw on positive emotions rather than the negative ones, in both business and personal life. Rens Ter Weijde is the founder of The Energy Strategy in the Netherlands, a group which helps individuals and organisations develop through achieving higher levels of wellbeing and happiness. The Energy Strategy works with McKinsey and Co, Google and in many other sectors, from sports to retail. Research tells us that only 17% of people are flourishing in life leaving a greater proportion of 83% not doing so well. This low percentage was surprising to me and I felt that it is a shame so little of us have fully grasped the concept of happiness. To my delight, Rens explained how the PERMA model can measure how flourishing we are, which could then highlight areas of improvement to reach the end goal of happiness. So all is not lost, there is light at the end of the tunnel!
Regardless of gender or ethnicity, these five dimensions of the PERMA model will measure how flourishing you are as an individual.
- Positive emotions: To concentrate on positive emotions and a positive mind-set will put you on the path to happiness. This may sound simple, but it is harder to put into practice then you may initially think. We were asked to think of five positive emotions, and five negative ones. It was interesting to find how easy it was to think of negative ones in comparison. We must train ourselves to be positive and get out of the comfortable habit of complaining and seeing the negatives in situations.
- Engagement: Being in the moment. For example; your hobbies and passions whether it be running, singing, or reading, these are invaluable experiences where you are in the flow of the moment and can easily immerse yourself within it.
- Relations: The quality and quantity of good relationships we hold in life is another important dimension to happiness. On average we successfully have two close friendships in life, this means two close friends that you can share all your concerns, dreams and passions with and who also share with you. The average used to be three friendships twenty years ago so we are seeing a decline. Loneliness is a big issue, especially with elderly people and current statistics show 25% of people have no significant friends.
- Meaning: Many of us struggle to find meaning or purpose in our lives therefore this dimension to the model is often scored the lowest by far. It is often concentrated on for improvement by senior members of an organisation. If meaning can be effectively communicated to all employees, a company can reach new heights of happiness and success.
- Accomplishments: This dimension is tailored to your personal perception of success. It doesn’t have to be that fancy car or luxury holiday, it is dependent on your own values and personal or professional goals.
Research also shows that happiness is influenced by the following: DNA 50%, Circumstance 10% and Intentional Activity 40%. It is great to see that 40% of happiness is in our control and is more than enough to make a difference! You can work with each of these dimensions in the PERMA model to improve your overall happiness score.
If you would like to see how flourishing you are, simply complete the survey links below to take that first step in understanding the science of happiness:
Being kind to someone else can make you happier
Does it come naturally to you to be kind to your colleagues, friends or a new acquaintance? The best way to become a flourishing individual is to be kind to someone. During the workshop we were asked to write a letter of gratitude to someone in our life. This activity opened our minds to being more thankful and to letting people know how much they are appreciated.
Building stronger relationship through conversation
Do you find yourself passive in most of your professional conversations? Are you a nodding dog? If you try to turn those conversations into ones where you are assertive and constructive, you will be able to build stronger relationships which will ultimately lead you to the goal of happiness.
Change your behaviour to enjoy every moment
Rather than only enjoying those happy moments when they come by, make every moment work for you and make time for them. Authenticity rather than forced positivity – enjoy the peaks and troughs of life.
Train yourself to think more positively
When training yourself to focus on the positives you could keep a diary noting the top three moments that made you happy that day. The results can be very interesting and lead you to a path of positivity which will rub off on the people around you.
I was enlightened to hear that even though 60% of what influences our happiness is not in our control, we can still make a huge impact with that remaining 40%. From time to time we are all guilty of focusing on the negatives or rushing through life at 100 miles per hour, we should be slowing down to enjoy and appreciate all the little moments and to be able to think more positively throughout those moments. We can choose to change our behaviour and with the help of the PERMA model, can be on the path to becoming flourishing individuals in both our personal and professional lives.