The PERMA Model: The Scientific Theory of Happiness

The PERMA Model: The Scientific Theory of Happiness

Most of us think we know what happiness means, but do we also know its most important fundamental pillars? The theoretician Martin Seligman’s happiness model helps us understand the steps to achieve a life filled with happiness.

The PERMA model

The 5 central elements of the PERMA Model cover the areas of well-being and happiness psychology.

Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology believes that with the help of the five core elements people can reach conscious and long-lasting happiness. The factors enhancing happiness, the PERMA piers are: Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishments. The bottom line of the PERMA model is that once the core elements of a happy life are defined, happiness can be achieved.

Positive emotions

Positive emotions do not only mean the ability to smile, but rather the ability to be optimistic. We can look at the past, present and future with a more positive attitude. This positive perspective helps our relationships, our work and inspires us. It ignites our creativity, opening up new possibilities. The positive outlook on life is important and necessary even when we are in a tough period so that we can steer our lives towards a good direction.

Pleasure and enjoyment are part of the positive attitude to life. Pleasure refers to our bodily needs like thirst, sleep and hunger. Enjoyment is born out of intellectual stimulation for example when we play or fulfil tasks with joy at work.



It is of utmost importance to find the activity we can be totally engaged in. These activities differ from person to person. We have to find the one for ourselves, the activity that engages us, that leads us into the state of flow. It may be music, sports, creative hobbies, etc.

These types of flow greatly affect our intelligence, skills and emotional capabilities.


Relationships and social connections are essential in one’s life. As humans are social beings, we are constantly building connections with others. Establishing positive relationships with our partners, siblings, and friends is relevant for being able to spread love and joy.


The meaning of life. We all realise at some point in our lives that beyond material wealth and individual careers there is something more important, namely to lead a happy and balanced life. This is the meaning of life that helps us understand and see the true values in our lives.


Accomplishment is the sense of satisfaction at the end of a process. It is the end result of our work towards our goals. Accomplishments give meaning to all performed tasks, to all realistic goals set. They are essential in achieving happiness.    

Seligman’s presentation on PERMA model

How can you apply the PERMA model in your own life?

Keeping in mind that the core elements of the PERMA model are the key to our happiness, take a close look at each of them. Start to apply and observe them in your life. Remember to see the positive side of all events in your life, both in your personal and professional life. Take care of your social connections, nurture them with love! Find activities that give you the sense of complete engagement, the sense of unity. Set realistic goals which you can easily achieve, thus experiencing the sense of accomplishment more often.

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