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Bill Shaw says experiencing positive emotions helps broaden our minds and helps us to build resourcefulness to counter adversity. Photo: SUPPLIED

The steps to our happiness



How Happy are you? We all have ideas and theories about what makes us Happy. It is a popular topic judging by all the self-help books on the subject.
Psychologist Martin Seligman used scientific research methods to investigate the secrets to Happiness.

His theory called PERMA outlines some of the key ingredients that underpin Happiness.
The P in his model stands for Positive emotions such as joy, humour, hope, thankfulness, and awe.
Research suggests we need to experience three positive emotions to offset one negative emotion.
Experiencing positive emotions helps broaden our minds and helps us to build resourcefulness to counter adversity.
Ways to build positive emotions in your daily life can include listening to uplifting music, spending time with people you like, involvement in hobbies that you enjoy and spending time in nature.
The E stands for engagement which refers to activities which you enjoy and can completely capture your attention and focus.
This is known as “flow” or “being in the zone “or “following your bliss.”
Do you have activities that you find both rewarding and can become fully immersed in?
Pursue activities you are passionate about and totally capture your focus.
The R stands for relationships and connection with others which can include family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues.
As social beings we need to feel supported and valued by others. Loneliness is a major health issue in our society.
Social Support is a key factor to both physical and mental health.
So, invest in your relationships with others. Join groups and clubs that help build social connections.
The M stands for having meaning and purpose in life. What is your reason for getting out of bed in the morning?
The Japanese call this Ikigai which refers to something that gives a person a sense of purpose and a reason to live.
This could be your family, job, helping others and hobbies.
The A stands for completing things which give you a sense of achievement and competence.Achieving a goal whether that be finishing a course or painting your house gives one a sense of pride and accomplishment.
It is important to set goals for yourself however small they may be and take time to celebrate your achievements.
Obviously, there are other factors which contribute to happiness including good health and exercise.
Research has shown that the PERMA model is a good starting point to increasing happiness in our lives.
– Bill Shaw is a registered social worker and psychologist, and tertiary educator in psychology, counselling and social work.