Are you happy? Are you flourishing? Are you optimistic? How do you rate your overall well-being? Your answer is a resounding “YES” if you create and sustain positive emotions, are fully engaged in the flow of life’s activities, enjoy healthy relationships, find meaning in your daily life and take pride in one or more of your achievements.
These five elements are what Marty Seligman, Ph.D., the father of positive psychology, refers to as PERMA. You can read more about this at Dr. Seligman’s website where you can take all sorts of interesting healthy positive lifestyle tests, in-depth assessment questionnaires, identify your signature strengths and learn more about the value of a positive daily mindset.
Here’s a simple test for you, only five questions, that can provide you with a quick assessment of your overall satisfaction and happiness in life. It’s called the Satisfaction with Life Scale, and is used in many forms of research on positivity and happiness—two key sources of healthy, long living.
|Answer each question openly and honestly rating:1 = strongly disagree 2 = disagree|
3 = slightly disagree
4 = neither agree nor disagree
5 = slightly agree
6 = agree
7 = strongly agree
|1 In most ways my life is close to my ideal.||1 2 3 4 5 6 7|
|2 The conditions of my life are excellent.||1 2 3 4 5 6 7|
|3 I am satisfied with my life.||1 2 3 4 5 6 7|
|4 So far I have gotten the important things I want in life.||1 2 3 4 5 6 7|
|5 If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing.||1 2 3 4 5 6 7|
|Add up your scores . . .SCORE INTERPRETATION|
|31–35 Extremely satisfied – Congratulations on finding life rewarding!26–30 Satisfied|
21–25 Slightly satisfied – So what areas would you like to improve?
15–19 Slightly dissatisfied – Psychological wealth includes some negative emotions, so not to worry
10–14 Dissatisfied – Some bad events going on? What do you need to do to improve your reactions to them?
5–9 Extremely dissatisfied
As Dr. Seligman puts it in his book, Flourish, “Is there someone in your life whom you would feel comfortable phoning at four in the morning to tell your troubles to? If your answer is ‘yes,’ you will likely live longer than someone whose answer is ‘no’.”
Do you pack a can-do attitude in your gym bag? Sure lotions, extra socks, two sports bras, extra hair ties and baby wipes are important, but it’s optimism, that belief that everything works out perfectly (EWOP), the self-talk that says “I can do it,” that’s essential and that you need to be sure to bring with you to the gym, school, work, an evening at home with your husband, dinner with friends and on every date you go on. Pack it first!
Dispute those negative beliefs, rehearse optimistic thoughts and you’ll stop that feeling of helplessness, that “I don’t think I can do that” style of thinking.
Take a look at this brief video on optimism, happiness and flourishing. As Seligman notes, “We estimate that being in the upper quartile of optimism seems to have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular risk roughly equivalent to not smoking two packs of cigarettes daily.”
The single most effective momentary increase in well-being that you can create for yourself, according to positive psychology, is built on offering an unexpected act of kindness to someone.
See that person at the gym or at your bootcamp that is really pushing it? Smile and offer a kind, encouraging word. The woman in the locker room who’s new to the gym? Offer to show her around. Is there a bit of a wait for a treadmill? Let the other person go ahead of you. Someone leave that much needed toiletry at home? Offer her some of yours. Notice what happens to your mood.
Finally, at the end of today, and for the next six evenings, focus on three things before bedtime that went right during your day. Better yet, write them down. Think about why it happened. Something go right with friends, co-workers, with family members, in nature? This simple exercise, one set daily with only three reps, “what went right and why” will do more for your heart than you can imagine. Of course, don’t forget to take your positive attitude for your walk, run or cardio routine. And smile!