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

PERMA: An Introduction

Dearest lovely readers,

How are we all faring?

When I started this blog, I thought I’d fill it out with post after post about well-being and psychology. Of course, it’s taken a different turn and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, I realised I’ve done very little in the way of what I love most in modern theory, positive psychology.

Now that I am back into the swing of things, I want to dedicate the next few weeks on some essential theory of positive psychology and how we can bring it into our lives and fill us up. Each post will have a similar formula, a small background on one of the elements of the PERMA model, how I’ve translated into my life and well-being and maybe some tips of how you could do the same if you’re interested.

Onto the introduction.

Positive psychology has been around for a few decades but was focused and arguably pioneered by Martin Seligman in 1998. He wanted people to be able to improve their quality of life. It focuses upon eudaimonia (“the good life”). It focuses upon improving what we need to live a fulfilling life.

The initial theory and base model by Seligman was created in 2002 known as the Authentic Happiness theory and detailed 3 elements on how to live a pleasant, good and meaningful life. Some elements included flow, belonging, meaning and savouring.

The PERMA model was formed in 2011 following numerous studies. Seligman called it “the other side of the coin” to clinical psychology. PERMA stands for Positive Emotions, Engagement, Positive Relationships, Meaning and Achievement. Altogether they can help make up positive well-being for the individual. These are the elements we will be exploring over the next few weeks and in greater detail, as well as some tips to help you on your well-being journey.

Positive psychology is a promising field, whilst there are no “gold standards” for research, there are countless studies proving the effectiveness of positive psychology. I hope that this series can highlight how wonderful finding positive well-being can be.

Much love,

L x

Nearing the end of a degree

Dearest lovely readers,

It’s been a while since I spoke about my personal life, and it’s been a while since I last posted. Life is just a whirlwind for me, or is it for you too?

A few weeks ago I submitted my dissertation and first ever research project focusing upon positive psychology. I got my grade back at 82%. I’m so proud of what I have accomplished. Since then I have submitted more assignments with just one left before I get a degree offer at the end of July.

I have been doing this degree since 2016, 5 long years. I think about all that I have gone through, how much has changed. I don’t think I could ever summarise this part of my life, the evolution I have gone through. For someone who thought they’d never accomplish anything, I’m getting there.

Getting a degree means the start of a life, the start of a future I love and can be proud of. It’s the start of independence for me, a sign I’m growing. I know innumerable people graduate every year, but this is something special and unique for me.

Some assignments and material was interesting and easier to get on board with, but I’ve also cried over assignments when drowning mentally and feeling like nothing would change.

There are so many options for a future career for me following getting that piece of fancy paper. I have decided on a few options. But for now, once that assignment is handed in, I will be taking a break.

My mental and physical health is still poor so I want to focus on recovering from my relapse, maybe start a new creative project, read some books. And volunteer. I have started training to be a Crisis Volunteer and hope I can go far in helping others.

Things have been a little tricky, I am always honest when I’m not okay. Some memories have been haunting me each night, things I wish I could forget. But as life goes on, so must we. I’m dealing with it better, I guess practice and exposure increases resilience.

I am starting to find joy in activities again, it’s always a slow process but we get to where we need to be. I also have some exciting trips planned as restrictions ease where I am. In just a few weeks, all being well, I shall be off to London to see my partner, we have some exciting things planned and I could not be more happy at the thought. I’m enjoying reading and finding myself to be okay in my own company again.

I guess, during these times, I want to offer a message of hope. We all have potential in our lives, and hard times come, that’s life’s nature. But we must carry on. Good things will always come back around.

Much love,

L x

A good day

Credit to chibird.

I love a good day, don’t you?

But what does a good day mean to you? Much like the adorable picture above, I imagine we all have a very different picture in comparison to one another. There is so much variation that makes a good day, and having these days are worth living for

For me, a good day lets me have that happy feeling at the end, where I am refresh feeling refreshed and light hearted but knowing I had accomplished something that day. No matter how big or small, such as being able to do some housework, even sending an email.

The beauty of a good day is in its uniqueness. You could accomplish so much, hit some personal targets, or good do what you needed and rested. I think the most important part is feeling happy at the end of the day: feeling good.

What constitutes a good day is up to you, whether it is filling up the day with hobbies, or what needs to be done; the brightest way to see if the day has been good and joyful is through reflection. A way to do this is through the classic ‘what went well’ exercise used in positive psychology. By listing things that went well, no matter how small, much like gratitude, and then writing down why it went well, how it went well, you will find the good in almost every day.

We need to fill our heart with happiness at this time, in all our accomplishments, no matter how minor they may seem. Because we not always have good days, but there is bound to be some goodness in all days.

I wish you all happiness right now,

L x

Book review: the self-care revolution

Good morning, good morning sunshine!

I thought I would do something a little bit different today and give a little review on a book I have recently read. Naturally, it is well in keeping with positivity, it is called The Self-Care Revolution by Suzy Reading. I have to say, I really did like this book.

Blurb/About: The Self-Care Revolution is designed to help and restore your day-to-day energy reserves so that, rather than running on empty, you will have the strength and spirit to excel with whatever life brings. Discover the Vitality Wheel – a complete body and mind Self-Care Toolkit that will boost your health, happiness and resourcefulness.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

In general, this book is wonderfully organised with a bright and easy to follow design and some beautiful, relaxing imagery. As Reading is a Chartered Psychologist, she has definitely evidenced her knowledge of self-care and well-being. She follows through on giving guidance around the essentials of self-care with some added extras of yoga for each topic.

Reading has created a vitality wheel which encompasses every part of self-care as follows:

  1. Sleep, rest, relaxation and breathing
  2. Movement and nutrition
  3. Coping skills
  4. Physical environment
  5. Social connection
  6. Mood boosters
  7. Goal-setting and accomplishment
  8. Values and purpose

Reading starts off each chapter describing her personal experience of each of the above categories, goes on to talk about the benefits and what each section involves as well as tips and advice on how to implement healthy strategies, she has ‘little gems’ as a useful summary and concludes with yoga poses that can aid in implementing the right energy for each section. You do not have to read the book in the sequence given, you can skip back and forth as you need which I found to be really accessible. I love her style of writing and enjoyed the personal touch of her experiences.

I learned some new things and am definitely keeping this book handy as a reminder. The yoga is also useful for first thing in a morning and I enjoyed completing some of the poses.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you are unsure of where to start your well-being journey.

Love to all,

L x

What we all face: the hedonic treadmill

Hello my lovelies! How are we this sunny Tuesday? Today I want to talk about a concept you may have heard of before, the hedonic treadmill, or hedonic adaptation. I find it fascinating and relate to it very much. It was a term coined by Brickman and Campbell (1971) and has become force for change in positive psychology (a field of Psychology that focuses upon happiness and well-being). It is where cognitive processes similar to sensory adaptation occur when faced with emotional events in life; our emotional system adapts to current life circumstances. It is where we react positively or negatively to a situation and then return to a neutrality or a baseline, a set point. It is a concept that presupposes why we are constantly seeking happiness in the next goal or action in order to maintain happiness levels. This notion can be a contentious topic among psychologists as the original theory declared we cannot do much to alter levels of happiness on a long term basis. The whole idea can seem counterintuitive too – would large moments that define our life trajectory change our baseline? Humans are an adaptable species which is why things may feel ‘neutral’ quite a bit, we get used to what we have. But evidence has shown activities such as altruism and self-care can impact short-term happiness which could possibly alter long-term happiness in the bigger picture. Hobbies that bring enjoyment such as art, crafting and reading can bring much happiness. Seligman termed these gratifications, and by consistently engaging we can alter our set points to be more satisfied with life. Diener et Al (2006) feels revisions must be made upon extensive research. The idea surrounding us going back to a neutral may indeed be wrong, they found the majority of people are happy or above neutral most of the time and suggest that there is no singular universal set point. They suggest that many factors including heritability (likelihood of transmission between parent and child) and personality impacts what the set point may be. There may also be multiple set points for an individual depending upon the factor impacting a person’s satisfaction with life. Longitudinal studies over a period of over a decade showed evidence to suggest that our happiness does and can change from previous levels on both a long and short-term basis. While we may have to face negative life circumstances, we will be better equipped when satisfied in other areas of our lives, and while this does take effort, being aware of where we are in our sense of self can help a great deal. For many years I felt my baseline, my set ‘neutral’ was depressed. The rush of retail therapy quickly faded, fun nights out turned me even worse the next day then back to depressed again. I felt I had to be out every weekend chasing the high, constantly achieving high grades at school, college even in the early years of university and nothing could keep me happy. I would return to my baseline. The past two years have changed all of that, I’m much happier in myself and while life events are not impacting my mood the majority of the time compared to mood swings I feel very satisfied with my life. While I have goals to achieve, they are end goals with a purpose such as overcoming phobias. So do what you love, whether that 5 minutes of sitting down with a cup of tea or spending a day painting, make that time! Please contact me and let me know your thoughts or any other topics I should cover! Much love, L x