PERMA: Engagement

Dearest lovely readers,

Gosh it has gotten grey all of sudden here. Things are a little difficult for me at the moment given I am currently coming off some medication, it is tough side effects but I am doing it. Let us get straight into today’s topic: engagement.

What is engagement?

Engagement refers to being able to fully commit to a task, finding a ‘flow’ and being completely absorbed in what you are doing at the present moment. It means you recognise you are good at what you are doing, feel appropriately challenged though still achievable, and it causes positive emotions. When you are engaged, it means you can adapt the tasks to your skill level allowing for more challenges and can use your strengths as much as possible.

Seligman himself describes it as being “one with the music” and follows Csikszentmihalyi’s (1989) concept of “flow”, where one can be completely absorbed into the present moment. It occurs when the correct balance of strengths and challenge are found.

A key way to find engagement is through using your “character strengths”. Now character strengths relate to 24 elements that make us who we are. They fall into six categories: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence. These were found based on the ideologies of major religions and philosophical proponents.
(Note: you can use the VIA survey to find out your key strengths or here under ‘questionnaires’)

So, how do you incorporate engagement into your life?

That is the thing, there is no one way. But, I can give you a few ideas. If you’re into journalling feel free to use the prompts below.

  • What are your strengths?
  • What are you good at?
  • What do you enjoy?
  • How does _(hobby)_ make you feel?
  • What do you want to do more of?
  • Can you schedule that in?
  • What makes you lose track of time?

But otherwise, if you feel you already have activities you love doing and find yourself losing time to, whether embroidery, knitting, sculpting, arts, literature, sports. Keep doing it, add more if you can. Using our free time for engagement can bring forth so much connection to ourselves, and others if you are in classes or teams. It generates joy and abundance.

My personal story

One thing I have been struggling with the past few years is the kind of work I want to do. I want something that brings the right kind of challenge and puts my own strengths to use. When I first started my degree I wasn’t sure what I would do beyond “Psychologist”. Now, there are SO many ways I can use my degree, and my passion. For a start I created this blog. I am seeking out roles where I can be engaged because it the largest part of anyone’s life if they are able to work. I now know I want to work preferably in the public or charitable sector, I need homebased because I have strength in being able to work from one specific spot (not to mention easier on my disabilities). I want to help people, I want to be front line rather than a researcher. Researching, isn’t entirely my strength.

When I was so low, I lost interest and engagement in anything that wasn’t partying or being up at 5am to study. But naturally, as you know, I have started goal to keep me engaged in my hobbies, and goodness it works. I find I can get lost in my writing, and my reading and mindful walking.

The beauty of having not only character strengths, but recognising your other strengths outside of that. I struggled in finding what I wanted but character strengths let me recognise beyond what I initially thought, they have helped guide me to find more engagement and new platforms.

Let me know your thoughts!

Much love,

L x

PERMA: Positive Emotions

Dearest lovely readers,

What a beautiful sunshine day here as I write to you. It feels like spring is truly coming, does it not?

Today’s topic is positive emotions within the the PERMA model. Now it sounds simple enough to add positive emotions to your life, but it can also be a bit vague. What are the positive emotions? What impact do they really have?

Within positive psychology, positive emotions are connotated to be feelings of satisfaction and comfort. It is about feeling good (hedonic) and allow you to feel kindness and gratitude more. According to University of Pennsylvania, the impact can be astounding. Experiencing positive emotions on a more regular basis can alter your worldview of not only the present, but also the past and future. By looking on your past more positively you can find gratitude and forgiveness. Utilising savouring and mindfulness in the present you find yourself more comfortable with your current circumstances. By practicing further, you can find hope and optimism for the future.

However, ultimately seeking out positivity purely through emotions is not the only thing your should be doing. Positive emotions are seen as the foundation upon which the rest of the model sits. If you have a negative disposition it can be harder to instil positive emotions. Luckily, there are four other routes. Likewise, we all cannot feel positive 100 per cent of the time, that just isn’t possible as a human being.

It is widely reported by Seligman and many other psychologists that positive emotions lay out the foundations, that you find more kindness and compassion and can perform better. Being in a positive disposition can ultimately, change your worldview.

So, how do we incorporate positive emotions into our well-being?

For a start, you can practice gratitude which is a previous blog post I have written here. Gratitude is the concept of being grateful for even the smallest of things in life, such as a nice cup of tea on a rainy afternoon snuggled up. It may be better having a journal specifically for gratitude, or even a piece of paper with a list of things you love and make you happy and grateful.

Savouring is also a positive element. Bryant and Veroff (2007) describe savouring as appreciating and intensifying positive experiences through the means of acknowledgement. So for example, this could be enjoying a meal by engaging in the smells and tastes. It can be possible to bring mindfulness in to this.

Journaling and self-reflection are also an easier way to bring emotions to the forefront such as your resilience and focusing on prompts like those below:

  • What do you want more of?
  • What inspires you?
  • Who celebrates you?
  • What brings joy?
  • What ‘simple things’ do you love?
  • What centres you?

By utilising journaling you can go deeper into what brings out positive emotions.

My personal story
Having Borderline Personality Disorder has often made every emotion feel difficult and painful, and not quite real. Self-regulation and balancing emotions has been a difficult and stressful activity since I was very young. During and after therapy and through many medical interventions, even now, I still struggle sometimes. But emotions are more balanced these days. I have been able to increase how much positivity I feel through hobbies and activities. You will often find me reading, or writing, meditating, practicing gratitude and doing mindful activities. Doing these things regularly was a game-changer for me. I am then able to channel these emotions into thinking and planning my future better, to seek optimism more faithfully.

Bringing more positive elements to your life, such as more hobbies (yoga, exercises, art, music etc.) and social interactions like classes, clubs or seeing more of your loved ones can bring more positive emotions. If you do this regularly it can be easier to regulate emotions and find a balance. I ensure I keep up hobbies through small goal making.

Take away: positive emotions are the foundations of building a brighter you, you become kinder and more compassionate, able to perform better and change your environment.

Much love,

L x