Martin Seligman’s positive psychology in the work place:

Positive psychology can be used in a variety of ways to increase happiness and satisfaction in the workplace.

To put this into place, Martin Seligman developed a model of five elements that are essential for our well-being. The model known as PERMA; Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment. These together form the foundation for achieving our potential and for creating a happy life.


Positive emotions

  • People succeed when they are happier. When our mood is livelier we set higher goals and persist at them for longer. When we are happier, we experience less stress and fatigue and display better team cooperation and problem solving.
  • To make people happier is to show gratitude. Gratitude creates positive emotions. Seligman’s ‘gratitude visits’; after surprising someone with a thank you, Seligman’s participants walked away noticeably happier, weeks and even months after their initial visit


  • A great way to influence our happiness is to invest in our relationships
  • Other people matter
  • Our relationships and social connections are one of the most important aspects of human life


  • Seligman says we should be engaged in the work we take part in
  • To build engagement in the work place is maximise the extent to which people are using and applying their strengths
  • Seligman notes that when we are engaging in work, which uses our strengths in new and innovative ways, we experience higher levels of happiness and lower levels of depression.


  • If people believe their work is meaningful they will be happier at work. Having a purpose and meaning to the work they create.
  • If we understand how our work benefits others or how it is valuable and how we are essential member of a team. This increases our individual well-being and overall satisfaction with our jobs.


  • As individuals we strive to better ourselves in some way such as, achieving a goal.
  • Accomplishment comes from acknowledging the small additional steps
  • Well-being is enhanced by taking forward steps

Isabel Thomson, Undergraduate, University of Birmingham

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