The Science

What is PERMAH?

Professor Martin Seligman, one of the world’s leading researchers in positive psychology and human flourishing, suggests that wellbeing is cultivated by the presence in our lives of positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment. This framework is often referred to as ‘PERMA’. Other researchers – ourselves included – also believe that the cultivation of your Health by eating well, moving regularly, and sleeping deeply is one of the hygiene factors of wellbeing. Everything just gets easier when this is present. So, in this tool we’ve added Health to Dr Seligman’s framework, making it ‘PERMAH’.
POSITIVE EMOTION the right balance of heartfelt positivity to boost our resilience
ENGAGEMENT the regular development of our strengths – those things we’re good at and enjoy doing
RELATIONSHIPS the creation of authentic, energizing connections
MEANING a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves
ACCOMPLISHMENT the belief and ability to do the things that matter most to us
HEALTH eating well, moving regularly, sleeping deeply
Just like muscle groups, or areas of fitness, these domains of wellbeing can be tested, targeted and developed through the practice of ongoing ‘Positive Interventions’. Created by wellbeing practitioners and researchers around the globe, these include exercises like keeping a gratitude journal, breaking the grip on rumination, developing your strengths, finding meaning in small tasks and overcoming self-doubt. The PERMAH Wellbeing Survey includes more than 200 (and growing) positive interventions you can try. To thrive, you need to cultivate each of the PERMAH pillars. How much you’ll need of each will vary depending on the type of person you are, the situations you’re in, and the outcomes you want to achieve. There is no single recipe for wellbeing. The right plan looks different for each of us. PERMAH provides a framework for specific, actionable ways that you can build your wellbeing. It’s important to remember though, that your wellbeing will ebb and flow, depending on what’s happening in your life. Rather than setting the goal of flourishing all the time, the aim is to become an informed, confident, and active participant in shaping your own wellbeing. Being an effective steward of your wellbeing is a skill you can learn and master, and is what will consistently shape your wellbeing over time.