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The 5 types of happiness, and how to achieve this state

The 5 types of happiness, and how to achieve this state

June 24, 2024

Happiness is one of those topics that interests everyone and that is why psychology has paid a lot of attention to this phenomenon. There are different theories that have tried to explain this construct and there are many researches that have tried to provide relevant data that allow us to understand its complexity.

One of the best-known authors is Martin Seligman, which states that there are five types of happiness . In this article we will talk about your model and what are its most outstanding characteristics.

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Who is Martin Seligman

Dr. Martin Seligman, is an American psychologist and writer considered one of the founders of Positive Psychology . He was born on August 12, 1942 in Albany, New York. For many years he has been the director of the clinical training program at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work deals with topics such as learned helplessness, positive psychology, depression, psychological resistance, optimism and pessimism.

It was in 1998 when this character decided to change the trend of psychology that focused mainly on negative emotions and how to manage them so that the welfare and emotional health of people experience an improvement. Seligman has been dedicated to investigating the implications of thinking and positive emotions and scientifically verify the most effective self-help methods .

  • Related article: "Emotional Intelligence and Positive Psychology: discovering the keys to success"

Model PERMA by Seligman

And it is that the welfare of people can not be studied without taking into account happiness. The author thinks that happiness has five components that are present in those individuals who are happiest. With this idea he created the "PERMA" model which, according to its acronym in English, means:

  • Positive emotions (positive emotions or pleasant life)
  • Engagement (Commitment or committed life)
  • Relationships
  • Meanings (meaning or meaningful life)
  • Accomplishment (Success or sense of achievement)

Components and types of happiness

Seligman's theory has five components or levels that indicate the types of happiness. The objective of his theory is to measure and encourage personal growth and well-being . These are the levels of your model:

1. Positive emotions or pleasant life

At the most basic level of happiness, the person experiences this through emotions . It has to do with the amount of emotions we experience during the day. A pleasant life consists of having more pleasant experiences during the day than unpleasant ones. The author thinks that people can learn a series of techniques to increase the duration and intensity of their pleasures.

These positive experiences can be: playing sports, enjoying a good meal, reading, etc. The positive of an experience depends on each person.

  • Related article: "Differences between emotions and feelings"

2. Commitment or life committed

If in the previous case the pleasures would be rather external, in this case the inmates are incorporated. This is what is known as "flow state", in which the person connects with their own wishes . We create a commitment when we are fully present, aware and creating flow opportunities that lead us to higher levels of well-being.

Seligmann describes commitment as "stopping in time and losing self-awareness during an absorbing activity." Happiness is developing a large number of optimal experiences of "flow" through the use of personal strengths.

3. Relationships

Relationships with others are also a great source of happiness, so to be happy you need to dedicate time, because it increases the feeling of support and the perception of well-being. This has to do with all relationships: friends, family, partners ... In fact, Social support is intimately related to well-being , and even some researches claim that they help reduce stress and discomfort. On the other hand, loneliness is associated with an increased risk of dying.

4. Meaning or meaningful life

Seligman describes this level as something bigger than ourselves. The meaning is the purpose for which we perceive that we exist , that is, what fills us and why we decided to fight. They are our most desired goals. Finding meaning of oneself is not always easy, but it is necessary to be happy. The search for meaning and self-realization is one of the principles of positive psychology.

5. Success or sense of achievement

People can live positive emotions, engage in different situations, feel the state of flow, we can have relationships that enrich us and find meaning in our lives.

We can have goals that motivate us and help us to develop positively, but the highest level of happiness is that we achieve when we have drawn goals and objectives from the heart and we have raised them. Then we feel competent and we know that we did what we wanted and we did it well. Achieving goals, especially those linked to our values, increases well-being over a relatively long period of time.

What science says about happiness

And is that as has been said, there are many investigations conducted on this subject. Who does not want to be happy? Happiness is something that we all pursue.

Over the years, scientists have found different activities, behaviors, attitudes and gestures that can make us happier. But ... what are the keys to happiness? Some of the most important findings are the following:

Spend more time with family and friends

As Seligman says, there are many researches that have shown that spend time with loved ones It makes us happier.

Travel a lot

Knowing the world and traveling is enriching not only because it opens our minds, but because it makes us feel good. Researchers, however, have found that It is not travel itself that makes us happy, but planning .

Live the present

Living expectations, often unreal, does not favor our well-being. Instead, live in the present allows us to experience life in fullness and it makes us happier


Gratitude is another of the basic principles of happiness. So whenever you can thank your loved ones everything they do for you.

Go out on the street

Something as simple as going out on the street is positive because increases serotonin levels in the brain , the neurotransmitter related to happiness.

These are just some examples of what science says about happiness. If you want to know more, you can read this article: "The 10 keys to be happy, according to science"


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