To Flourish—Identify the Factors of Well-Being

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Apr 23, 2012

Mind-Body-Spirit News

Martin E.P. Seligman, PhD, director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and founder of positive psychology, has added to his prior thinking about what constitutes authentic happiness. In his newly articulated theory of well-being, Seligman suggests that the gold standard for measuring well-being is flourishing, and that the goal of positive psychology is to increase flourishing in our own life and on the planet. Seligman has identified a theory of well-being that consists of five “PERMA” factors:

  • Positive emotions: experiencing happiness and life satisfaction, or what is referred to as the “pleasant life.”
  • Engagement: being completely absorbed, losing self-consciousness or being in a flow state.
  • Relationships: connecting with other people.
  • Meaning: belonging to or serving something that we believe is bigger than the self.
  • Accomplishment: achieving, winning or acting simply to exert mastery over the environment.

Seligman thinks that well-being is both subjective and objective. In other words, we cannot simply feel good in our own heads; we must also have meaning, good relationships and objective accomplishments. To truly flourish, we should strive to build each of the PERMA aspects of well-being by using our strengths, particularly our “signature strengths.”

To learn more about flourishing and the theory of well-being and to take a free online test to determine your signature strengths, go to

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About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at