Skip to content
Personal Growth

Learned Happiness

Martin Seligman on why focusing solely on the positive emotion of happiness isn't enough. Think PERMA: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment.

What’s the Latest Development?

In his new book, author Martin Seligman offers ways to move beyond simply seeking good feelings, to pursuing a better life. Focusing solely on the positive emotion of happiness isn’t enough. Maia Szalavitz notes that Seligman was one of the founders of ‘positive psychology’ yet says in his new book that focusing solely on the positive emotion of happiness as a foundation for a good life isn’t enough. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Seligman argues that happiness is only one of five human motivations. “We abbreviate it as PERMA. P is positive emotion, E is engagement, R is relationships, M is meaning and A is accomplishment. Those are the five elements of what free people chose to do. Pretty much everything else is in service of one of or more of these goals.” “We’re trying to do something liberating by saying even if you [are depressed], you don’t get consigned to the hell of unhappiness. You can have meaning, accomplishment, engagement and good relationships, even if you are dull on the positive affect side.”


Up Next