Lifelong Happiness: Positive Psychology’s Approach to Aging Well

Mental health is the cornerstone of longevity. Paraphrasing Peter Attia, “what’s the point of living longer if you are unhappy?”

But what exactly constitutes a good life? This question has been at the heart of Positive Psychology for over two decades. It distinguishes itself from traditional Psychology and Psychiatry which have almost exclusively focused on misery.  Positive Psychology focuses on what is right with people, rather than what is wrong with them, shifting the focus towards cultivating what makes life worth living.

Researchers in this field employ scientific methods to investigate what enables individuals and communities to flourish. A prominent framework that has emerged from this research is the PERMA model. Each component is essential for well-being and is valued not just as a means to an end but as an end in itself.

Here’s a closer look at each element of the PERMA model:

  1. Positive Emotions – This involves experiencing feelings like joy, gratitude, and contentment, which can enhance our overall resilience.
  2. Engagement – Often referred to as ‘flow,’ engagement is about being so deeply involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.
  3. Relationships – Social connections are crucial for psychological health, providing support, love, and a sense of belonging.
  4. Meaning – This pertains to having a purpose or a sense of direction in life that makes daily activities fulfilling.
  5. Achievement – Goals and accomplishments give us a sense of success and competence.

Each person’s values and priorities differ, making it essential to tailor one’s approach to well-being according to what one holds dear. You can explore your personal values in the questionnaire section of the Authentic Happiness website here (note you have to register an account). For reference, how I value each component is displayed in this dashboard:

In recognition of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, we will delve deeper into each of these elements and explore strategies to enhance these vital components of mental health. Through this series, we aim to provide actionable insights that can help anyone improve their psychological well-being and, consequently, their life satisfaction.

Stay tuned as we embark on this journey to uncover the building blocks of a happier, healthier life.

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