How to achieve authentic happiness with positive psychology

Hello! Seiiti Arata. For a long time, psychology was seen as a way of caring for mental illnesses and disorders. Currently, the role of psychologists has not been restricted to acting to remedy diseases, but to prevent them from happening. More and more positive psychology is finding discoveries of practices that can be used to bring you authentic happiness.

So today I will share with you the main concepts of positive psychology, in particular the three-pillar model that Martin Seligman suggested in his work on authentic happiness. And we will also see a more updated model, called PERMA, which is a model of five elements to go beyond simple joy and achieve a life with meaning and fulfillment.

Conditioning happiness to external events is a big mistake.

When we condition happiness, we invent conditions without which we are not allowing ourselves to be happy. To condition happiness is to think things like “When I lose weight, I will be happy. When I get a job or a salary raise, I will be happy. When I buy a car or a house, then I will be happy”.

It is a big mistake to believe that authentic happiness will only come when we have some object or achievement. It’s not a smart idea to condition our happiness to some achievement. Authentic happiness does not appear after we reach a goal, such as learning some skill, achieving financial independence or finding great love. Nor can it be conditioned by an experience, like traveling, getting married or curing an illness.

Both in the case of acquiring objects, achieving goals or living experiences, what we need to be careful about is not putting conditions for happiness. Being happy without reason is the most authentic form of happiness.

It is positive to have aspirations and seek improvements, but it is not positive to be attached to the results.

Statistics of economic growth and happiness show that even when different nations thrive financially, there is no proportional increase in people’s happiness rates. Once your basic needs for food, housing and health are met, more money does not necessarily mean more happiness.

Poverty and the lack of minimum quality of life conditions certainly generate unhappiness. Then, when we get out of misery, there will certainly be an increase in happiness. The person who earns only one minimum wage will be happy to earn three minimum wages. But the person who already earns a thousand minimum wages will not have the same increase in happiness when earning three thousand minimum wages.

Happiness is tied to being and not having. When we condition happiness to the conquest of an object, that happiness lasts for a short time because we get used to it quickly and start to desire other things.

Positive psychology teaches how we can achieve a more lasting and genuine state of well-being.

Positive psychology is the scientific study of the elements that make life worth living. This new area of ​​psychology offers a scientific perspective on what the ingredients are for happiness, well-being, satisfaction, purpose, engagement and relationships.

Until recently, psychology was mainly concerned with diseases, pain, trauma and difficulties that are considered negative experiences.

Positive psychology seeks to study the opposite. It is the science that studies the virtues and allows us to live a full, meaningful and happy life. So, in addition to studying happiness, we also study optimism, gratitude, engagement, high performance, compassion, self-esteem and creativity.

The study of happiness is based on scientific experiments that evaluate how people react to different types of conditions. These studies are published and the entire scientific community can read the details of the experiment and try to replicate the same results, criticizing and seeking new conclusions.

Thus, positive psychology seeks to understand which are different approaches proven by science to have a better quality of life. The conclusion of these studies points to a path: it is possible to better understand and deal with emotions. We can relate more positively to the people around us.

Happiness increases when we improve, achieve full engagement and find purpose.

To better understand positive psychology, you can think of different stages of quality of life: the pleasant life, the good life, the meaningful life and the full life.

Pleasant life is full of positive emotions. In pleasant life, we passively enjoy emotions such as joy, fun, contemplation, gratitude and serenity. These feelings are present in great quantity, frequency and intensity.

The next stage is the good life. The good life happens when you are most active in your positive experience. Instead of simply relying on luck and chance to feel positive emotions, you make a conscious effort to improve yourself. For example, you dedicate part of your time to activities of gratitude, meditation, volunteering and social activities with the intention of developing your skills to have more positive emotions.

There is an even greater stage of happiness. It is the meaningful life, which is represented by effort and dedication to achieve a state of flow, of total involvement in an activity that in itself brings enormous satisfaction. The flow state is one in which you are fully involved, concentrated, absorbed. Your focus on the activity is so intense that you don’t even realize that several hours have passed, you forget to eat a meal or even don’t realise it’s already bedtime.

Finally, the highest stage of happiness is full life. In full life, you live all the previous stages in an integrated way. And you also feel that you belong to something bigger, that is serving the community, rather than simply seeking individual advantages. You are living with purpose when you are at this stage.

As long as there is sincere interest, you can elevate your life towards higher stages of authentic happiness. This can be learned by applying the findings of positive psychology. According to Martin Seligman, this construction of happiness is done by working on three main pillars:

1. Positive emotions and experiences. For example: joy, inspiration and love;

2. Positive personality traits. For example: personal virtues and skills;

3. Positive institutions. For example: our work and our family.

We will explain each of these pillars in more detail.

Pillar 1: Positive emotions and experiences.

You can find positive emotions in the past, present or future.

When you are thinking about your past, seek out the positive emotions of moments when you felt joy, contentment, pride and serenity. You can find several positive moments, as long as you dedicate yourself to it.

This dedication is necessary because some people maintain a disproportionate focus on the negative events of the past. This is a great explanation for the weakening of positive emotions. Do not accept the determinism that negative childhood events will always cause problems. As much as you have a difficult past, it is always possible to make an effort to value previous positive experiences.

There are activities proven to increase positive emotions towards the past, such as the expression of gratitude, forgiveness, forgetfulness. Within the Happiness course, we have guided activities for you to do. You can visit this link to gain access.

Regarding the present moment, there are two main sources of positive emotion: pleasures and gratifications.

Pleasures are momentary and cause a feeling of instant reward, such as eating sweets, watching a movie, meeting good friends.

On the other hand, gratification can bring a positive emotion despite being physically painful, like running a marathon. Or they may represent a certain sacrifice, like dedicating your time to voluntary activity.

And, regarding the future, you can find positive emotions in the hope, in the dream of a better life and in the optimism that it is possible to act to achieve results.

Pillar 2: Positive states and personality traits.

There are virtues that can and should be worked on daily to improve our potential, such as knowledge, courage, love, justice, moderation and transcendence. And for each of these virtues there are specific forces that can be developed.

For example, within the virtue of knowledge, you can develop different personal strengths, such as curiosity, a taste for learning, your organization, your perseverance, your critical thinking.

Every person can develop strengths and virtues, as long as they have the will and dedicate the necessary time with good guidance. So, by doing specific exercises you can find the areas that have the greatest fitness and potential and develop further.

Pillar 3: Positive institutions and organizations.

For a good understanding of who we are, it is also necessary to observe which groups we belong to. Authentic happiness requires assessing not only the individual person considered in isolation, but also the organizations and institutions in which that individual participates. For example, how is the quality of our relationship or marriage? And in the family, in general? And what about the corporate culture of the company in which we work?

In the same way that we need to improve the virtues and strengths at the individual level, it is necessary to take care of each of the institutions that are part of our life.

For example, how can you develop your personal strengths in your work? Are you collaborating today in a company that has a toxic culture? Doesn’t it make more sense to seek to flourish your career and vocation perhaps in another environment?

Always keep your radar alert to ask yourself if your life has meaning, as this is an essential component of authentic happiness.

Authentic happiness is found in life with meaning.

To go to the next level of your quality of life, you need to change your focus. Stop just solving problems and start focusing on strengthening your qualities and living with purpose. For that, count on the development of your virtues, strengths and abilities.

Just looking for positive emotions may not be enough for a full life. At the beginning of positive psychology, the central theme of research was happiness.

Science is always advancing and today we have better models. Positive psychology today is concerned with something greater than simple joy: it now has wellbeing as its main object.

Martin Seligman’s new model of the theory of happiness now presents five elements of a happy life and well-being, which form the acronym PERMA:

Positive emotions





Let us now know in more detail each of these five elements to better understand our emotions and achieve true satisfaction.

Positive emotions have a multiplier effect.

When we feel positive emotions, we are able to improve our performance, we have better results and this further increases our well-being.

When we change our mindset to have a more positive attitude in the face of a challenge, there is a change in our levels of dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin. All of this contributes to feeling good, willing to believe that the future will be even better.

When we start projects with the belief that it is possible to achieve good results, we can act with superior performance. Positive emotions are a kind of fuel that helps us to achieve better results in all areas of life.

Engagement happens in the activities that we like to do and that are at the appropriate level of challenge.

What do you do that makes you completely engaged? Flow-level engagement occurs when you are doing work so concentrated that you lose track of time altogether.

This state of flow arises when we do what we like and the level of complexity of the activity is adequate. If it is too easy, you will feel bored and look for other things to distract yourself. And if it’s too difficult, you can get frustrated and give up. Above all, the flow experience must be interesting for you to devote all your energy.

If you still don’t know what are the activities that awaken the flow state in you, try to get to know yourself better. Evaluate the different activities you have done in the past. Try new activities that are on your list of things you would like to do one day.

For you to live a full life, identify what are the activities that bring the engagement that increases your confidence, productivity, concentration. These are valuable activities for your well being.

Healthy relationships are the foundation of a full life.

The more positive our relationships are, the more positive our emotions, thoughts and actions will be.

By evolution itself, the human being is a social animal that needs to be in contact with other people. This contact needs to be healthy, through connections of respect, solidarity, generosity and love.

The quality of your life will depend on the quality of your relationships. This principle is valid for family groups, companies, local communities and even the whole planet.

The dynamics of relationships are based on exchanges. We bring the best we have. We learn from each other. We accept contributions offered by others.

Meaning in life brings balance to simple joy.

Joy is more associated with the present moment, whether for pleasure or gratification in the activities we carry out. Meaning has a greater connection with the past and the future.

You can take actions to increase your joy in the present moment, and you can also plan for the future and celebrate past events to find meaning. Look for a healthy balance between the joy of the present and the meaning of the past or future.

Once again, self-knowledge will help to know what to do. If you are a person with a tendency to dedicate yourself to others, you may already have enough meaning in your life. The way to achieve balance is also to know how to take care of yourself, your leisure and fun, increasing your joy. On the other hand, if you have a profile with a greater tendency to enjoy life with a high level of joy, it may be a mature choice to also reflect on how to also find more meaning in life.

Achievements reinforce our internal value and the feeling that our efforts are worthwhile.

Authentic happiness also depends on our ability to make things happen and look at our results with pride and without false modesty.

The good relationship with your vision of the future allows you to have the audacity to dream. This is an excellent first step. But just dreaming is not enough. It is necessary to carry out. And for that, it is necessary to have clear goals, priorities and strategies.

Achievement is important in two main ways. Firstly, the objective achieved has value in itself. But in addition, it is important to know that we have the capacity to accomplish. This increases our confidence and well-being.

See that achievement is of great importance. Because of this, we need to clarify that it is not necessary to have false modesty or even ashamed to feel good because of your own achievements. There is a necessary clarification. Pride is positive when it is related to the positive feeling you have about yourself and your ability to make dreams come true.

On the other hand, there is a different concept, which is arrogance, which is to feel superior to other people. You can and should be proud of your accomplishments while taking care not to be arrogant. On the contrary: from a healthy pride in your achievements you can have the humility to seek to improve yourself even more. You can practice the generosity of sharing your learnings. You can strengthen companionship and relationships by inspiring others to seek their own dreams as well.

You can increase your happiness levels by strengthening your skills, your conscience, finding purpose and immersing yourself in the activities you do. For this, positive psychology has done a lot of interesting research and with simple practices that can be implemented. That’s what we do within the Happiness course.

In the Happiness course we bring to you in a practical way the conclusions of research by authors like Martin Seligman and many others in an agile and to the point format. I invite you to visit the link now to access the first special class.