The Pursuit of Well-Being: More Than Just Happiness

Discover the secret to true contentment beyond fleeting happiness, as we dive into the PERMA framework.

“If you’re happy and you know it…  raise your hand.” 

I have a beautiful two-year-old daughter, and we sing, “If you’re happy and know it…” a lot. Most of us think the secret to life is happiness. Spoiler alert: happiness is a fleeting emotion. I think the secret to life is well-being

Over a decade ago, I attended some incredible leadership training and was introduced to the “Theory of Well-Being” by Martin Seligman and the concept of “PERMA.” About a year after this training, I met my husband, and on our second date, I shared with him these concepts of well-being and PERMA, along with Gallup’s Strengthsfinder (but that’s another blog.) Nerd Alert! I know. And even now, ten years later, my husband and I still use this framework, and PERMA is a household term. 

So, what am I talking about? Martin Seligman’s theory explains that having a life of well-being is the basis to contentment and human flourishing. To experience well-being, your life needs to have a balance of the five elements of PERMA.

P: Positivity

The things that bring you joy. Coffee, sunsets, stickers (again, two-year-old in our home!), but simple things that bring happiness that you can add into your life. 

E: Engagement

This is the state of flow. It’s when you are focused on your task and not noticing time going by. 

R: Relationships

Relationships are all about being surrounded by community. Finding your people; friends, family, partner, kids are key to well-being, as we are created as social creatures. Strong relationships are central to our well-being.

M: Meaning and Purpose

This is your why. It’s your reason to wake up in the morning. It can be religious, a belief, or an idea. You can have multiple purposes in life. This is your “having something bigger than yourself.” 

A: Achievement

Achievement is working towards a goal. To grow yourself and strive for more. Again, you will have multiple Achievements throughout your life. 

The five elements are not meant to be equal. In some seasons of life, you may concentrate more on the A or the R or the M. What is key, though, is having some part of all of these elements in your life.

Our culture at We Create supports well-being in a variety of ways.

  • Positivity is central in all meetings. On Fridays specifically, we share what we learned during the week and shout out team members who helped us during the week.
  • For Engagement, we recently started having weekly time blocks for us to practice our flow state as an experiment, and it’s now something we implement on a once/week basis. We respect each other’s flow time and do not send chats or e-mails. 
  • Relationships are important within our team, clients, and networks. We value quality time, and four times a year, we gather for quarterly in-person team days. This is a time for us to not only develop professionally but connect with each other personally — which is immensely important with our blend of remote work and out-of-state employees.
  • When it comes to Meaning and Purpose, in addition to the company’s purpose, my department has a specific mission as finance to enable WeCreate’s financial success through accuracy, timeliness, and insight. This drives what we do and gives reason to our daily tasks. 
  • As part of Achievement, our leadership team builds quarterly goals by department, and we check in weekly as we work towards our goals. We track our progress and can see our Achievements in action. 

WeCreate’s meaning and purpose
We make the complex simple, and we are generous stewards of our ecosystem.

When my husband and I talk about our day and our week, we often note when we don’t feel like ourselves or don’t have much energy, one or two of the elements of PERMA are missing.

When we start to feel this, we re-evaluate and discuss how to add more P, E, R, M or A in our lives. 

Remember, we are ultimately the ones who can create well-being in our lives. What P E R M or A can you add into your life today?