Positive Psychology: the Five Components of Wellbeing

What is Positive Psychology?

Positive psychology is a field of psychology which is focused on growth and strengths. This is different from the more traditional fields of Psychology which have tended to focus on deficit and weakness. The goal of positive psychology is to support people to live meaningful and engaged lives; and to become the very best versions of themselves. Applying the principles of positive psychology in daily life may help to provide a buffer against stress and ward against mental ill health.

The PERMA Model

Typically, the field of psychology has focused on psychological illness and pathology. In more recent times, there has been a shift to investigating those elements which contribute to states of positive wellbeing. From this shift, has emerged the PERMA model of wellbeing. The PERMA acronym stands for:

  • Positive Emotion
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Accomplishments/Achievements

This model is now well-researched. Positive associations have been demonstrated between each of these components and perceptions of wellbeing. According to a study conducted by Forgeard and colleagues (2011), the components of the PERMA model are effective predictors of psychological distress. That is, engaging with the five areas outlined within the PERMA model supports people to both increase feelings of positive wellbeing and to decrease feelings of psychological distress.

Positive Psychology in Daily life

Below are examples to help highlight each component of the PERMA model, and how this may be applied in daily life:

1. Cultivating positive emotions

Watching a funny video, keeping a gratitude journal or looking at holiday pictures may help to boost positive emotions. 

2. Engagement with life

Consider doing something you love. When we do something we love, we are generally in a state of mindful engagement which is sometimes referred to as a state of flow.

3. Maintaining positive relationships

Reconnecting with an old friend may help to boost positive relationships. Positive social connections are an important aspect of maintaining positive mental health and provide a buffer when times are hard. 

4. Finding meaning

Knowing and using our values to help guide decision making may help to create meaning. Being clear about what is important in our lives and using this information to help guide our actions can help us to live meaningful lives.

5. Creating accomplishments and achievements

Setting and working towards goals may help to provide a sense of accomplishment. A sense of accomplishment or achievement is a critical aspect of maintaining mental wellness.

The principles of positive psychology can be helpful in both coaching and therapy. If you’d like to learn more positive psychological techniques and how they may be helpful for you, contact Uplift Psychology today.


Forgeard, M. J., Jayawickreme, E., Kern, M., & Seligman, M. (2011). Doing the right thing: Measuring wellbeing for public policy. International Journal of Wellbeing1(1), 79–106.

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