Some time ago I had a post entitled: “Optimists Are Inspiring.” That post emphasized characteristics of modern society with such words as cynicism, competitiveness, hostility and anger (often expressed as emotional black-mail). I had learned about Learned Optimism from a 1990s book published by Professor Martin Seligman and was given permission to use his test instrument in the context of a half day Optimizing Optimism Workshop, which I used with a variety of people, such as job seekers, sales people and educators, etc. The mid-nineties was a time when thousands of organizations were restructuring and “down-sizing.” In an outplacement firm, where I worked, I found the results of a short optimism workshop could make an “inspiring” change in people’s lives.
Last evening, in an exciting talk by Professor Seligman, he introduced PERMA to teachers, parents and, younger and older school children. Also, a lady who was an MD, airplane Pilot, who US Army officer was in charge of a PERMA training for the whole US Army. Her research pointed to a dramatic decrease in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in soldiers trained before battle.
In his talk, Prof. Seligman reported on training the trainers who fan out into various parts of a community, including factories, schools, retail stores, etc. but both speakers were prepared with decades of research, written about in Seligman’s 2002 book: Authentic Happiness; Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment, which was an international best seller. Also, both talked of what PERMA means and that it is discussed in his 2011 book called Flourish; A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being. Flourishing itself is seen as having nine features: positive emotions, engagement, interest, self-esteem, optimism, resilience, vitality, self-determination, and positive relationship.
PERMA, is viewed as the intentional goals of training.
Perhaps it seems redundant to mention some again, PERMA stands for:
P = Positive emotion (of which happiness and life satisfaction are aspects)
E = Engagement (mindful of social belongings, in various possible groups
R= Relationships (emphasis here is on praise and positive remarks, rather than punishment)
M= Meaning (belonging, service, altruism)
A= Achievement (accomplishment through goals achievement, because of skill and effort)
As a career Psychologist, and Transpersonal teacher, I found these considerations were certainly inspiring and exciting to say the least. Seligman’s recent efforts have been mainly over the past two years (Yes! in Adelaide, Australia). The talk I attended was hosted by a substantial network of stake holders in “North-Adelaide.” The mood was hushed excitement and a question time at the end, showed a commitment to take the “Positive” approach. Also, one could sense this was not a sales pitch for the future but a statement that many projects already well underway, even here! Personally, I have experienced resilience in the military, but less so in an ego-centered, acquisitive and advertizement driven society. Nevertheless, this inspiring thrust is a great encouragement to all involved!
Please comment below, as your comments are likely to add different perspectives.